Thank you for sharing!

Your article was successfully shared with the contacts you provided.
Only 44.3 percent of the candidates who sat for New Jersey’s February bar exam got passing grades, the lowest rate in two decades, according to the state Board of Bar Examiners. Of 1,032 people who took the exam and received their results, 457 passed. The results continue a downward trend that has accelerated of late. In 1998, the pass dropped below 50 percent, and only once in the past five years has the number topped the halfway mark. In 1999, 53.4 percent passed. Although the February pass rate is traditionally lower than for the July exam, the gulf is widening. Only four times in the past 15 years has the pass rate for the February exam breached the 60 percent mark. The best year was in 1989, when 67.1 percent passed. Conversely, the pass rate for the July exam has fallen below the 70 percent mark only four times during that period. The worst year was in 1990, when 64.5 percent passed. “This is the lowest pass rate I’ve seen in more than 20 years,” says Samuel Uberman, assistant secretary to the Board of Bar Examiners. Reasons given for the low February pass rates and the continued decline tend to focus on the demographics of the candidates. “The exam is no different” in February than in July, says Uberman. “The candidates are.” In the first place, many candidates take the test after having failed the July exam, so they may be poorer test-takers to begin with, law school and bar exam officials say. Of these, many will fail again. Stuart Deutsch, dean of Rutgers Law School-Newark, says repeat failers may warp the results. “There is sort of a hard-core group who take the test and fail eight, 10, 15 times,” he says, adding that he knows of people who have taken the exam 20 times or more and cannot pass. Second, a larger number of February candidates are part-time students with other responsibilities aside from preparing for the exam. They don’t have the time to sit through the bar examination preparatory courses that summertime candidates take. As financial and time resources become stretched, candidates may have less and less time to prepare, which may explain the continued decline, says Frances Bouchoux, associate dean for admissions and career services at Rutgers-Newark. “There is a group of people who take that test who simply cannot devote the amount of time needed to prepare,” she says. “In addition to the group that fail the test multiple times, there are those whose jobs or families are demanding more and more of their time.” Bouchoux and Deutsch are quick to brush aside any suggestion that the quality of legal education has declined. “It’s not a matter of academics,” Bouchoux says. Uberman agrees. “It’s the quality of the candidates,” says Uberman. “I believe the results are telling us that.” Related item: New Jersey Bar Exam Results

This content has been archived. It is available exclusively through our partner LexisNexis®.

To view this content, please continue to Lexis Advance®.

Not a Lexis Advance® Subscriber? Subscribe Now

Why am I seeing this?

LexisNexis® is now the exclusive third party online distributor of the broad collection of current and archived versions of ALM's legal news publications. LexisNexis® customers will be able to access and use ALM's content by subscribing to the LexisNexis® services via Lexis Advance®. This includes content from the National Law Journal®, The American Lawyer®, Law Technology News®, The New York Law Journal® and Corporate Counsel®, as well as ALM's other newspapers, directories, legal treatises, published and unpublished court opinions, and other sources of legal information.

ALM's content plays a significant role in your work and research, and now through this alliance LexisNexis® will bring you access to an even more comprehensive collection of legal content.

For questions call 1-877-256-2472 or contact us at [email protected]


ALM Legal Publication Newsletters

Sign Up Today and Never Miss Another Story.

As part of your digital membership, you can sign up for an unlimited number of a wide range of complimentary newsletters. Visit your My Account page to make your selections. Get the timely legal news and critical analysis you cannot afford to miss. Tailored just for you. In your inbox. Every day.

Copyright © 2020 ALM Media Properties, LLC. All Rights Reserved.