New data from the American Bar Association provides bar pass rates at all ABA-accredited law schools, eliminating the need to search each school’s sites for the information as well as bringing the numbers up to date.
The ABA’s Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar has taken a new approach to the disclosure of bar pass data this year. In the past, schools were required to report only their first-time bar pass rate to the ABA each fall, but that timing meant that the bar results were more than a year out of date by the time they were made public in the early winter. Hence, they were less helpful to prospective students choosing schools the following spring.
“These reports provide important consumer information for students considering whether and where to attend law school and for others with an interest in legal education,” said Barry Currier, the ABA’s managing director of accreditation and legal education.
Separating out bar pass rates from the statistics that schools report in the fall, such as their enrollment numbers and tuition, means would-be law students have the most recent data available before plunking down a deposit.
Presenting individual school data on a single spreadsheet also provides an easy way to compare results between schools.
For example, the University of Chicago Law School; Yale Law School; and Duke Law School had the three highest first-time bar pass rates in 2017, at 98.12 percent, 97.65 percent, and 97.44 percent, respectively. (Marquette University Law School and the University of Wisconsin Law School are listed as having 100-percent pass rates, but that’s because the states’ diploma privilege allows graduates of those schools to join the bar without sitting for the exam.)
Conversely, Arizona Summit Law School; Thomas Jefferson School of Law; and Whittier Law School posted the lowest first-time pass rates in 2017, at 26.53 percent, 29.17 percent; and 35.26 percent respectively.
What’s more, the newly released data shows that the vast majority of law graduates who take the bar exam pass within two years, even at a time when state pass rates have been trending down.
Nearly 88 percent of 2015 law grads who took the bar passed within two years, the ABA found. Additionally, 77 percent of the 2017 law grads who took the bar passed on their first try, as did 74 percent of 2016 grads nationwide.
Reporting the two-year “ultimate bar pass rate” measure is yet another change designed to give prospective students a realistic picture of how a school’s graduates fare on the all-important licensing exam. In addition to first-time passers, that statistic captures those who passed the exam on the second or third tries.
The ABA data also shows how each school’s bar pass rate compares to the statewide pass rate for the jurisdiction in which the school’s largest cohort of student took the exam. That statistic helps identify which schools over perform and underperform on the bar exam compared to their in-state counterparts.