Wednesday, August 23, 2017

California Bar Exam - Call for Comments

Dear Colleagues,
The State Bar of California is in the process of conducting a comprehensive review of its bar exam.  As part of that review, a Standard Setting Study was recently conducted for the purpose of setting the cut score for the July 2017 California Bar Exam.  The State Bar is now seeking public comments on two options: 
(1) maintain the current cut score of 1440, or (2) lower the cut score to 1414.  The State Bar is also soliciting comments more generally about the study and recommendations, including those regarding study methodology.
CLEA today submitted the attached Comment to the California State Bar  Download 8.23.17 Comment. California State Bar .  As you will note, CLEA has not taken a position on the bar exam cut score; rather, we have used this as an opportunity to urge the State Bar to consider the limitations of the current format of the bar exam, and to propose development of an exam that assesses the full range of competencies required for law practice.
We encourage you to submit additional comments, especially those of you who teach at California schools.  Comments are due this Friday, 8/25 through an online form, accessible at 
Because CLEA believes the Standard Setting Study was flawed, we did not indicate agreement with either option listed on the form.  Rather, the attached statement was submitted.
If you agree with CLEA’s position, a comment that reinforces it would be helpful.  Here is suggested language:
“I strongly urge the California State Bar to consider the limitations of the current bar exam and to weigh alternatives, beyond adjusting the cut score.  The bar exam should assess applicants on foundational lawyering skills and competencies, rather than only substantive legal knowledge and analysis.  A licensing process that assesses the full range of competencies required for the profession would allow California to better guarantee that those admitted to practice will offer competent legal assistance to those they serve.”
Below are links to (1) general background information about California’s comprehensive review of the bar exam, (2) the Final Report of the Standard Setting Study, (3) reports of two external evaluators, and (4) the Call for Comments.
General information regarding comprehensive review:
Final Report – Standard Setting Study:
External Evaluations of the Study:
Call for Comments:
Many thanks to CLEA’s Advocacy Committee, led by co-chairs Joy Radice (University of Tennessee) and Kendall Kerew (Georgia State), for its work on these important issues.
Benjie Louis & Beth Schwartz
CLEA Co-Presidents

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