In a reversal from last year, eight of New York state's 15 law schools have reported lower pass rates for first-time candidates who took the July bar exam. In 2011, eight schools reported improved pass rates over the prior year.
This year's turn-around resulted in the state's first-time candidate average pass rate dropping one percentage point, to 85 percent.
With its 70 percent pass rate for the July exam, New York Law School experienced the most precipitous plunge this year, down 10 percentage points from 2011.
The result dropped New York Law to last place among the state's law schools, a full 4 percentage points behind 14th place Touro Law Center.
Anthony Crowell, who was named dean of New York Law in May after teaching there as an adjunct for nine years, said he was "very disappointed" with the exam results.
"No new dean wants to come into office with this kind of news," he said. "This is not what I would have expected of the school and I know that the school is better than this, the students are better than this."
To improve pass rates going forward, Crowell said he has formed an 11-member task force called "Foundations for Success." The committee, he said, will conduct "a top-to-bottom review" of the class that took the July exam as well as previous classes, and will evaluate the school's programs to ensure that students are offered as much "counseling and support as possible."
For example, he said, each student preparing for the July 2013 exam "will have an individualized coaching and counseling plan. That to me is critical."
New York Law's 70 percent pass rate represents a huge drop from the 94 percent pass rate it posted for the July 2008 exam. And despite having the largest number of first-time candidates among the 15 law schools464, compared to 414 last yearCrowell maintains that New York Law has adhered to the same standards for granting admission.