Law School Academic Support Blog

Editor: Amy Jarmon
Texas Tech Univ. School of Law

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

What Is Minimum Competence?

For those of you involved in bar exam preparation, have you ever wondered about the putative standard for passing the bar? The standard is, allegedly, “minimum competence to practice law.” As states continue to raise their “cut scores” and lower their pass rates, the meaning of “minimum competence” becomes ever more murky.

            I have some data and thoughts on this, which you can find at What_is_minimum_competence?   I address these ideas: Pass rates and the “cut score”; the effect of the MBE; the “disconnect” between the standard of “minimum competence to practice law” and the means used to test meeting that standard, both on the Bar Exam and in Law School; and the widening divide between law professors and bar examiners on the meaning of minimum competence to practice law, as evidenced by the declining bar passage rates.

            I also think it is time to consider possible means to test the validity of the hypothesis that adherence to the “minimum competence to practice law” standard requires ever increasing cut scores and lower bar passage rates. If you are interested, take a look at my short discussion at the above-referenced link, and let me know what you think. (mwm)

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