Monday, March 13, 2023
Seto: 2022 First-Time Bar Pass Performance Of California Law Schools, Controlling For 25th Percentile LSATs
TaxProf Blog op-ed: First-Time Bar Pass Performance of California Law Schools, Controlling For 25th Percentile LSATs, by Theodore Seto (Loyola-L.A.; Google Scholar):
In a recent TaxProf blog post, Paul Caron ranked all law schools by their 2022 first-time bar passage rates, based on ABA data. Based on that same 2022 data, I then explored the extent to which California law schools over- or under-performed in first-time bar passage after controlling for the median LSATs of their students. After posting my analysis, Paul asked me to replicate that analysis using law schools’ 25th percentile LSATs — in effect, to measure the extent to which California law schools add value to their students most at risk, the bottom quarter of their classes by LSAT.
Because U.S. News uses median LSATs in ranking law schools, schools have the flexibility to take other criteria into account in admitting the bottom half of their classes (by LSAT) without directly affecting their U.S. News ranking (e.g., admitting diverse or first-generation students). To the extent LSATs are predictive of bar passage, however, doing so may negatively affect bar passage rates. Schools can manage this problem in at least two ways: (1) by keeping their 25th percentile LSATs as high as possible, or (2) admitting lower-LSAT students (typically diverse or first-generation students) and devoting resources to maximizing the likelihood that they too will pass the bar. This follow-up analysis therefore looks at the extent to which California law schools are successful in preparing the bottom of their classes for the bar — that is, the value they add to their students most at risk.
Here are the relevant raw data from 2022. The first column is 25th percentile LSATs, the second is distance of the school’s bar passage rate above or below the state average. Schools are listed in the order of 25th percentile, high to low:
|Law School||25th LSAT||+/- From State Ave.|
|UC San Francisco||157||-1.60|
From this data, we can generate a least squares regression line, captured by the equation:
Y = 2.284181 X – 361.24,
where X is 25th percentile LSAT and Y is the distance by which each school’s bar passage rate is above or below the California average.
Here are the same data on a scatter plot, with the least squares regression line added. Bar passage is very strongly correlated with a school’s 25th percentile (r = 0.914576).
And here are how California law schools over- or under-performed in first time bar passage in 2022, based on 25th Percentile LSAT, listed in the order in which they over- or under-performed:
|Law School||25th LSAT||Actual Bar Pass||Predicted Bar Pass||Value Added|
|UC San Francisco||157||-1.6||-2.62||+1.02|
In other words, Loyola LA students passed the California bar at a rate 10.28 percentage points higher than their incoming 25th percentile LSATs would have predicted. Conversely, Stanford students passed the bar at a rate 8.53 percentage points lower than their incoming 25th percentile LSATs would have predicted.