Correlation Or Coincidence?…Desperate Law Schools = Lowest Bar Exam Pass Rate In A Decade!

By | October 31, 2015

Interesting statistics about the future of the law profession due to the ‘collapse’ in the number of law school applications!

Two articles this week from two different publications concerned the state of the profession of law from the perspective of the new crop of prospective lawyers who are applying to law schools and who will ultimately sit for the bar exam.

With applications on the decline some reports say that the quality of accepted applicant, based on LSAT scores, has resulted in a higher percentage of an incoming class at certain law schools being rated as ‘high risk’ to ‘extreme risk’ of not passing the bar exam.

According to the article at Slate, this is the way that students with risk would be determined…

  • A “high risk” student, with 147 to 149 on the LSAT, stands a 50 to 60 percent chance of passing the bar exam on his or her first try.
  • A “very high risk” student, with a 145 to 146 on the LSAT, has a less than 50 percent chance of passing.
  • An “extreme risk student,” with a 144 or below, has less than a one-in-three chance of passing. 

And now, to extrapolate what these lower LSAT standards might mean in the ‘real world’, a look at actual bar exam passage rates in New York State!

From an article at Above The Law it has been reported that the number of candidates taking the July New York State bar exam was the lowest since 2006 (see potential reason above) and the passage rate was a mere 61% overall (lowest in at least 35 years) and 71% for first-time takers. These are some statistics…

Year All Candidates All First-Time Takers All First-Time ABA Takers
July 2015 61 percent passed 70 percent passed 79 percent passed
July 2014 65 percent passed 74 percent passed 83 percent passed
July 2013 69 percent passed 78 percent passed 86 percent passed
July 2012 68 percent passed 76 percent passed 83 percent passed
July 2011 69.2 percent passed 78.5 percent passed 86.1 percent passed
July 2010 70 percent passed 78 percent passed 86 percent passed
July 2009 72 percent passed 80 percent passed 88.2 percent passed
July 2008 74.7 percent passed 83.2 percent passed 90.5 percent passed
July 2007 70.6 percent passed 79.1 percent passed 87 percent passed
July 2006 69.5 percent passed 79.4 percent passed 86.7 percent passed
July 2005 67 percent passed 75.9 percent passed 82.7 percent passed
July 2004 67.4 percent passed 76.5 percent passed 83.1 percent passed

So for you and I, the business owner, individual or corporate executive that may need to hire a lawyer at some point in time, what does it all mean?

Most likely not that much right now but, as these newly minted attorneys embark on their careers either as solo practitioners or at larger law firms, the vetting of the counsel who we decide to engage will become that much more critical!

And, as with doctors, adequately vetting is a task that is not always that easy to accomplish.

These are the links to the articles referenced above:

New York Bar Exam Results Reveal Worst Pass Rates In More Than A Decade

Desperate Law Schools Are Admitting Way Too Many Poorly Qualified Students

Michael Haltman is President of Hallmark Abstract Service in New York.

2 thoughts on “Correlation Or Coincidence?…Desperate Law Schools = Lowest Bar Exam Pass Rate In A Decade!

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