Wednesday, November 25, 2015
A hot topic across the legal blogosphere this week has been the nationwide drop in bar pass rates which some attribute to the allegedly declining credentials of law students (and here) resulting from the drop in applications since the number of law school matriculants peaked in 2010 at 52,500. Others argue that the drop in bar pass rates is due to an increasingly difficult exam (here and here). Whatever the reason, with many of the state bar pass rates now accounted for, legal bloggers (here, here here and here) as well as national media outlets like the Wall Street Journal have been reporting this troubling trend. My co-blogger Professor Sirico posted a handy graphic below that summarizes the data state-by-state. Now you can add Michigan to the list of states reporting a decline in bar pass rates from 2014 when 63% of all test-takers passed to this year when only 61% passed. While the overall percentage drop is not especially disturbing, it's the results from Cooley (now Western Michigan University) that are likely to raise eyebrows. While bar pass rates for U. Michigan actually increased from last year when 87% for all test-takers passed to this year when 92% passed, for Cooley its bar pass rates for all takers dropped from 44% in 2014 to 39% this year. Of course this is most concerning to the students affected but since Cooley has been a lightening rod for criticism that schools are accepting students who are not otherwise qualified to pass the bar in order to fill empty seats due to declining applications, this will no doubt become a story. Cooley and the other Michigan schools affected by the drop in bar pass rates will likely offer their own explanations for the drop this year while also trying to figure out, like many other law schools nationwide, how to goose up the numbers for next year.
Hat tip to JD Underground.