Wednesday, January 25, 2017

National Law Journal, Showdown Over Law Schools' Bar Pass Standard Set for Feb. 6

National Law Journal, Showdown Over Law Schools' Bar Pass Standard Set for Feb. 6.


"The American Bar Association is pushing forward with a bid to strengthen its bar passage requirement for law schools over fresh objections from nearly half the nation's law deans.

The proposal to require at least 75 percent of a school's graduates to pass the bar within two years will be considered by the ABA's House of Delegates at its midyear meeting Feb. 6 — a move the objecting deans had hoped to delay in light of the continued decline in California's bar passage rate."

"But the ABA's legal education council has already spent years debating a stricter standard and gathering public input, thus there is no reason for delay, said ABA managing director of accreditation and legal education Barry Currier in response to the dean's letter. "The fact remains that to become a lawyer in a jurisdiction, a law school graduate must pass that jurisdiction's bar exam," Currier said. "The [bar pass proposal] that the council adopted holds schools to meeting graduates' expectations in the jurisdictions where the school's graduates choose to locate."

The bar pass proposal comes at a time of intense debate over the role of the ABA in protecting the consumer interests of law students amid climbing tuition costs and falling bar pass rates. The U.S. Department of Education has faulted the ABA for not policing law schools more closely, while diversity advocates have claimed the tougher bar pass proposal will hurt efforts to usher more minorities into the legal profession."

"n addition to the bar passage proposal, the House of Delegates will also consider a change that would require law schools with a 20 percent attrition rate to demonstrate compliance with its admissions rules. The attrition rate does not include students who transfer to other schools."

(Scott Fruehwald)

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