Pennsylvania’s bar passage rate dropped to the lowest it has been in the last five years with the July 2012 bar examination, and a few law schools had the passage rates of their graduates drop by a few percentage points.
The passage rate for the July 2012 Pennsylvania bar examination was 77.32 percent, while the passage rate for the July 2011 examination was 79.81 percent, according to the Pennsylvania Board of Law Examiners.
The peak bar passage rate since 1994 was 82.8 percent in July 2008. In July 2009, it was 81.3 percent. In July 2010, it was 79.67 percent.
Of the 2,077 test-takers in July 2012, 1,606, or 77.32 percent, passed.
Drexel University’s Earle Mack School of Law, Temple University’s Beasley School of Law and Widener University School of Law-Delaware all saw the bar passage rates of their graduates drop by a few percentage points.
In 2012, 76.92 percent of 117 Drexel graduates passed, down more than 5 percent from 2011, when 84.47 of 103 graduates passed.
In 2012, 73.33 percent of 180 Widener-Delaware graduates passed, down more than 5 percent from 2011, when 79.04 percent of 167 applicants passed.
In 2012, 82.38 percent of 227 Temple graduates passed, down more than 5 percent from 2011, when 88.11 percent of 244 applicants passed.
A call to Drexel’s dean and law professor, Roger J. Dennis, was not returned immediately Tuesday afternoon.
Micah J. Yarbrough, director of bar programs for Widener and a legal writing professor, said the leaders of the institution were disappointed with the performance of the Delaware campus on this summer’s bar exam.
Yarbrough said they hope it is a blip because Widener has seen an upward trajectory in its bar passage rates. For example, 56 percent of Widener-Harrisburg graduates passed the Pennsylvania bar in 1994.
Widener has been able to improve its bar passage rates for both of its campuses through several factors, Yarbrough said.
Those efforts have included an in-house bar preparation course that students can take pass-fail and refining first-year courses so their content better matches the bar exams, Yarbrough said.
“We are always diligent on the bar passage because it plays an important role” for students, the law school’s reputation and in American Bar Association accreditation, Yarbrough said.
Temple Law Dean JoAnne Epps said Temple had the largest cohort of graduates who passed the bar of any other regional law school with 187 passing.
While the July 2012 numbers are down, Epps said, “I do not view this year’s results as raising any major concerns on our part, but obviously all law schools want as many of their graduates to be as successful as possible.”
Rutgers School of Law-Camden saw the largest increase in its overall bar passage rate.
In 2012, 81.55 percent of 168 applicants passed, up more than 5 percent from 2011, when 76.32 percent of 152 applicants passed.
Rutgers-Camden professor and Dean Rayman Solomon said Rutgers-Camden has been working to improve its bar passage rates of both the Pennsylvania and New Jersey bars.
The programs have included first-year programs, programs for students who have self-identified that they need assistance, and a diagnostic test given to third-year students by a private bar preparation provider, Solomon said.
“What you’re now seeing is the result of those programs,” which are still being implemented, Solomon said.
The passage rate of first-time candidates taking the exam in July also decreased slightly.
Of the 1,872 first-timers in 2012, 83.01 percent passed.
Of the 1,922 first-timers in 2011, 85.07 percent passed.
Of applicants who took the bar examination again, 30.56 percent of 72 applicants who took the exam a second time passed, 28.36 percent of the 67 applicants who took the exam a third time passed, and 16.67 percent of 66 applicants who took the exam a fourth or more time passed.
As usual, the University of Pennsylvania Law School had the highest passage rate among Pennsylvania-area schools, with 96.08 percent of its 51 graduates sitting for the exam passing. Only two applicants from the school did not pass.
The school also had the highest passage rate for first-time applicants at 96.08 percent.
Pennsylvania State University’s Dickinson School of Law had the second highest passage rate at 86.36 percent, or 96 of 110 applicants passing. That was up from 2011′s rate of 84.35 percent of 115 Penn State applicants.
Widener University School of Law-Delaware had the lowest passage rate with 73.33 percent, or 132 applicants, passing the bar.
Widener University School of Law-Harrisburg had the second lowest passage rate with 73.91 percent, or 68 applicants, passing the bar. That was down from 76.64 percent of 107 applicants passing in 2011.
The overall passage rates from other regional law schools for the July 2012 exam are:
• Duquesne University School of Law: 79.47 percent of 117 applicants, up from 78.3 percent of 203 applicants;
• University of Pittsburgh School of Law: 77.53 percent of 178 applicants, down from 82.45 percent of 188 applicants; and
• Villanova University School of Law: 84.62 percent of 156 applicants, down from 88.07 percent of 176 applicants.
The overall passage rates from regional law schools for first-time applicants for the July 2011 exam are:
• Drexel: 80.91 percent of 110 applicants, down from 86.87 percent of 99 applicants;
• Duquesne: 85.96 percent of 171 applicants, up from 82.20 percent of 191 applicants;
• Dickinson: 95.83 percent of 96 applicants, up from 92.08 percent of 101 applicants;
• Pitt: 83.13 percent of 166 applicants, slightly down from 83.98 percent of 181 applicants;
• Rutgers-Camden: 82.80 percent of 157 applicants, slightly down from 82.84 percent of 134 applicants;
• Temple: 86.87 percent of 210 applicants, down from 91.74 percent of 230 applicants;
• Villanova: 88.97 percent of 145 applicants, down from 91.57 percent of 166 applicants;
• Widener-Delaware: 80.39 percent of 153 applicants, down from 86.39 percent of 147 applicants; and
• Widener-Harrisburg: 80 percent of 80 applicants, staying the same as 80 percent of 100 applicants in 2011.