How Important Are Law School Bar Passage Rates?
Nowadays almost any piece of information is offered online. Whether it’s car prices, the latest news, or your favorite blog (hint hint), chances are you can find it online. The same is true of everything to do with your future law school. From the number of admitted students to the median 1L GPA, to even job placement information – It’s all online. Prospective students have a wealth of information at their fingertips! One common set of information you may have come across during your research are bar passage rates for each school. What do these percentages mean for you and your future law school?
How Important Are Law School Bar Passage Rates?
Bar Passage Rates
Bar pass rates are an important statistic that should be a part of your decision to attend a certain school. Along with post-graduation employment data and the cost of attendance, a law school’s pass rate should be reviewed before committing. These pass rates are now more important than before because of the slump in Bar Exam pass rates nationally.
To put it simply, Bar Exam pass rates are a percentage of graduating students who successfully passed the bar exam. The pass rates are generally broken down into two categories: first-time test-takers and repeat takers. Bar pass rates essentially communicate how well a law school prepared its students for the exam. These rates do not communicate how well a law school prepared its students to be practicing lawyers.
What Bar Passage Rates Don’t Reflect
Law schools all have different teaching philosophies. Some take a holistic approach to education, choosing to focus on a comprehensive program. Other law schools focus heavily on teaching students how to think like lawyers. Some law schools train students on how to simply pass the Bar Exam. As a result, these latter tend to focus less on skills leading to a successful legal career.
So, while law school bar exam pass rates are important, they are not the end all be all. Sure, you don’t want to go to a school that has a low pass rate. If that’s the case, who wants to spend all the time, money, and personal sacrifice? However, you also don’t want to go to a school-based solely on this statistic alone.
This is because passing the Bar Exam comes down to each and every student, not the law school. For example, students who struggle with standardized tests, such as the LSAT, are likely to struggle with the Bar Exam. A student who struggles with the Bar Exam will do so regardless of the law school.
Moreover, almost every student takes a Bar Exam preparation course. A student’s participation in these courses can heavily influence whether they pass or fail. Thus, a student who went to a top-tier school but failed to study for the exam will skew results slightly. The Bar Exam is a different animal when compared to law school examinations. Students who excelled in law school may find the Bar Exam difficult.
Best and Worst Bar Exam Pass Rates
Naturally, when discussing bar exam pass rates by law schools, students are curious to see the best and worst. What schools came out on top and what schools saw poor performance? Check out the summary below based on 2018 pass rates:
Law schools with the highest Bar Exam pass rates:
- New York University School of Law: 97.35 percent;
- Columbia Law School: 97.28 percent;
- Harvard Law School: 96.85 percent;
- Yale Law School: 96.76 percent; and
- Liberty University School of Law: 95.65 percent.
Law schools with the lowest Bar Exam pass rates:
- University of San Francisco School of Law: 33.33 percent;
- University of La Verne College of Law: 31.49 percent;
- Appalachian School of Law: 30 percent;
- Thomas Jefferson School of Law: 26.43 percent; and
- Whittier Law School: 21.84 percent
You guessed it! The schools with the highest pass rates are some of the most well-known law schools in the country.
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