A Low Bar for Bar Passage

Vast majority of law school grads who sit for the bar pass within two years, but at least a quarter fail at more than 10 percent of schools.

March 23, 2018
 

Nearly nine out of 10 law school graduates who sat for the bar exam within two years of graduating passed it, according to new data from the American Bar Association.

But more than 10 percent of law schools had at least a quarter of their students fail the exam, and more than one in six schools had rates below 80 percent, the ABA data show.

The new data represent the first time that the ABA has released data for all of its member schools on what it calls the "ultimate" bar passage rate, rather than the one-year rates by which law schools have typically been judged.

Barry Currier, managing director of the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar, which oversees accreditation of law schools, said the change “allows for more current information to be collected and reported,” to help prospective law students better choose schools. “It also gives us a snapshot of how law graduates are doing over a two-year span at each school,” he said.

The ABA, not surprisingly, emphasized the positive in the bar-passage data. The aggregate one-year bar-passage rate for those 2017 graduates who sat for the exam rose to 77.2 percent, up from 74.3 percent in 2016. The one-year rates ranged from 100 percent for Marquette University and the University of Wisconsin at Madison to below 30 percent for Arizona Western Law School and Thomas Jefferson School of Law.

About 40,000 students graduated from the ABA's 202 law schools in 2015. Of those who sat for the bar within two years, the ultimate aggregate pass rate was 87.8 percent. (About 1,100 students did not sit for the exam, and law schools were unable to give the ABA information on about 1,000 more.)

But 24 schools had rates below 75 percent, and another 13 had rates below 80 percent, as seen in the table below.

School Name 2015 Graduates Number Who Took Bar Exam Within 2 Years Number Who Passed Bar Exam Within 2 Years % That Passed Bar Within 2 Years
U of Detroit Mercy 150 109 62 56.9%
Arizona Summit Law School 417 395 236 59.7%
New England Law 335 302 182 60.3%
Pontifical Catholic U of P.R. 203 191 116 60.7%
Inter American U of Puerto Rico 169 155 99 63.9%
Northern Kentucky U 131 117 75 64.1%
St. Mary's U 224 211 137 64.9%
U of District of Columbia 71 67 44 65.7%
Atlanta's John Marshall Law School 146 120 81 67.5%
U of Toledo 99 89 61 68.5%
U of Wyoming 77 74 51 68.9%
Valparaiso U 132 124 86 69.4%
Western Michigan U 680 628 438 69.7%
Syracuse U 189 184 131 71.2%
Ohio Northern U 67 64 46 71.9%
Florida Coastal School of Law 407 394 284 72.1%
South Texas College of Law Houston 325 312 225 72.1%
Golden Gate U 161 155 112 72.3%
U of South Dakota 62 55 40 72.7%
Howard U 130 118 86 72.9%
U of North Dakota 69 56 41 73.2%
Barry U 244 234 172 73.5%
Whittier Law School 140 136 101 74.3%
American U 480 399 299 74.9%
Duquesne U 144 139 105 75.5%
Ave Maria School of Law 88 83 63 75.9%
Thomas Jefferson School of Law 238 228 175 76.8%
Southern U 214 142 109 76.8%
Mississippi College 123 114 88 77.2%
U of Dayton 93 88 68 77.3%
U of Puerto Rico 186 165 128 77.6%
Appalachian School of Law 60 60 47 78.3%
Florida A&M U 135 120 94 78.3%
Charleston School of Law 144 139 109 78.4%
St. Thomas U (Florida) 159 154 121 78.6%
U of La Verne 38 38 30 78.9%
Catholic U of America 134 130 104 80.0%
Loyola U Chicago 262 222 178 80.2%
Touro College 182 177 142 80.2%
Texas Southern U 155 146 118 80.8%
U of San Francisco 167 163 132 81.0%
Creighton U 125 117 95 81.2%
Western State College of Law 112 108 88 81.5%
Florida State U 250 237 194 81.9%
Drake U 120 117 96 82.1%
McGeorge School of Law, U of the Pacific 218 208 171 82.2%
U of St. Thomas (Minn.) 138 135 111 82.2%
North Carolina Central U 179 169 139 82.2%
U of North Carolina 232 218 180 82.6%
Faulkner U 89 87 72 82.8%
Southwestern Law School 306 298 247 82.9%
Indiana U Indianapolis 269 230 192 83.5%
U of Buffalo School of Law 199 195 163 83.6%
Hofstra U 301 285 240 84.2%
Suffolk U 467 436 368 84.4%
U of Maine 78 71 60 84.5%
Nova Southeastern U 285 267 226 84.6%
William & Mary Law School 179 165 140 84.8%
California Western School of Law 218 214 182 85.0%
Southern Illinois U-Carbondale 111 101 86 85.1%
Roger Williams U 119 116 99 85.3%
Vermont Law School 165 158 135 85.4%
Indiana U Bloomington 195 186 159 85.5%
U of Texas at Austin 357 338 289 85.5%
U of Baltimore 268 250 214 85.6%
New York Law School 353 338 290 85.8%
U of Arkansas at Fayetteville 137 130 112 86.2%
Santa Clara U 213 211 182 86.3%
Quinnipiac U 116 110 95 86.4%
U of Arizona 158 148 128 86.5%
Case Western Reserve U 144 134 116 86.6%
U of Oregon 119 112 97 86.6%
John Marshall Law School 381 368 319 86.7%
Albany Law School of Union U 172 169 147 87.0%
Elon U 92 85 74 87.1%
Capital U 149 141 123 87.2%
Pepperdine U 199 196 171 87.2%
U of Pittsburgh 200 189 165 87.3%
Georgia State U 199 188 165 87.8%
Willamette U 102 99 87 87.9%
City U of New York 111 108 95 88.0%
West Virginia U 134 125 110 88.0%
Widener U Delaware 167 159 140 88.1%
Loyola U New Orleans 198 187 165 88.2%
DePaul U 253 240 212 88.3%
U of Arkansas Little Rock 123 112 99 88.4%
U of Maryland 255 235 208 88.5%
Mitchell Hamline School of Law 230 209 185 88.5%
Northern Illinois U 101 97 86 88.7%
U of Massachusetts Dartmouth 58 53 47 88.7%
U of Minnesota 239 233 207 88.8%
Michigan State U 292 269 239 88.8%
U of Mississippi 142 117 104 88.9%
Stetson U 270 252 224 88.9%
Duke U 214 200 178 89.0%
U of Hawaii 108 101 90 89.1%
U of South Carolina 211 202 180 89.1%
U of Nebraska 128 121 108 89.3%
Lincoln Memorial U 20 19 17 89.5%
U of Idaho 108 105 94 89.5%
U of New Hampshire 71 68 61 89.7%
U of San Diego 246 241 217 90.0%
Temple U 253 243 219 90.1%
Cleveland State U 117 112 101 90.2%
Lewis and Clark College 201 164 148 90.2%
U of Tennessee 123 113 102 90.3%
U of Richmond 159 156 141 90.4%
Rutgers U 401 388 351 90.5%
U of California, Hastings 301 294 266 90.5%
Texas A&M U 227 221 200 90.5%
Washburn U 117 116 105 90.5%
Pennsylvania State U Dickinson Law 55 53 48 90.6%
Western New England U 93 86 78 90.7%
U of California, Davis 188 183 166 90.7%
U of Alabama 144 140 127 90.7%
U of Montana 79 76 69 90.8%
Samford U 134 109 99 90.8%
Tulane U 241 229 208 90.8%
Regent U 125 121 110 90.9%
Northeastern U 169 167 152 91.0%
U of Nevada Las Vegas 139 135 123 91.1%
Oklahoma City U 143 135 123 91.1%
U of Illinois 177 169 154 91.1%
Pace U 142 138 126 91.3%
Seattle U 262 243 222 91.4%
U of Akron 142 128 117 91.4%
Chicago-Kent School of Law 282 257 235 91.4%
U of Memphis 109 106 97 91.5%
U of New Mexico 109 106 97 91.5%
Concordia Law School 26 24 22 91.7%
Brigham Young U 142 134 123 91.8%
Mercer U 115 111 102 91.9%
Columbia U 417 408 375 91.9%
Saint Louis U 199 190 175 92.1%
Louisiana State U 189 178 164 92.1%
U of Utah 125 117 108 92.3%
Villanova U 217 208 192 92.3%
U of Miami 401 368 340 92.4%
Washington and Lee U 176 173 160 92.5%
U of Houston 219 214 198 92.5%
U of Kentucky 126 124 115 92.7%
Loyola Marymount U 372 362 337 93.1%
Liberty U 61 60 56 93.3%
Arizona State U 219 212 198 93.4%
Chapman U 132 126 118 93.7%
New York U 486 474 444 93.7%
Georgetown U 692 656 615 93.8%
U of Missouri Kansas City 140 130 122 93.8%
Texas Tech U 203 198 186 93.9%
U of Denver 271 254 239 94.1%
Southern Methodist U 240 238 224 94.1%
Wake Forest U 147 136 128 94.1%
U of Southern California 216 211 199 94.3%
Cardozo School of Law, Yeshiva U 365 353 333 94.3%
U of Louisville 131 124 117 94.4%
U of California, Irvine 114 107 101 94.4%
U of Tulsa 111 108 102 94.4%
Drexel U 132 127 120 94.5%
Boston College 244 237 224 94.5%
Fordham U 410 372 352 94.6%
Pennsylvania State -- Penn State Law 98 93 88 94.6%
Emory U 312 303 287 94.7%
Brooklyn Law School 336 333 316 94.9%
Northwestern U 288 276 262 94.9%
Widener Commonwealth Law 85 82 78 95.1%
U of Georgia 190 187 178 95.2%
Seton Hall U 194 187 178 95.2%
Washington U 231 219 209 95.4%
St. John's U 249 246 235 95.5%
Wayne State U 129 125 120 96.0%
Cornell U 183 178 171 96.1%
U of Colorado 157 153 147 96.1%
George Washington U 465 436 419 96.1%
George Mason U 145 141 136 96.5%
Belmont U 87 86 83 96.5%
U of California, Los Angeles 336 320 309 96.6%
Gonzaga U 120 117 113 96.6%
Boston U 208 206 199 96.6%
Vanderbilt U 184 178 172 96.6%
U of Cincinnati 104 101 98 97.0%
U of Notre Dame 179 178 173 97.2%
U of Oklahoma 155 148 144 97.3%
Ohio State U 172 162 158 97.5%
U of Missouri 127 124 121 97.6%
U of Kansas 134 129 126 97.7%
U of California, Berkeley 281 267 261 97.8%
U of Connecticut 152 138 135 97.8%
Campbell U 142 140 137 97.9%
Florida International U 141 141 138 97.9%
U of Florida 309 305 299 98.0%
U of Michigan 357 348 342 98.3%
Harvard U 590 511 503 98.4%
U of Iowa 141 133 131 98.5%
Stanford U 191 184 182 98.9%
U of Washington 194 191 189 99.0%
U of Chicago 196 193 191 99.0%
Yale U 212 194 192 99.0%
U of Virginia 366 357 355 99.4%
Marquette U 229 221 220 99.5%
U of Pennsylvania 246 235 234 99.6%
Baylor U 112 109 109 100.0%
U of Wisconsin 213 213 213 100.0%

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