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California Law Schools Post Disappointing Bar Exam Passage Rates
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Summary: Another year has gone by with overall disappointing bar passage rates from most of California’s law schools.

The California Bar Examiners have notified the state’s schools of their passage rates and the numbers don’t look pretty. The state average is sitting at a mere 62 percent. The passage rate in New York rests at 83 percent. Apparently there is something severely wrong in California.


UC Hastings was alarmed to hear that their passage rate was 11 percent below the state average with nearly half of their test takers failing. The school is already addressing the problem and plans to help those students who failed.

At the top of the list was Stanford with a 88.8 percent pass rate. The University of Southern California, the University of California-Los Angeles, and the University of California-Berkeley complete the rest of the schools that secured over 80 percent passage rates.

The worst performing schools were Tier 2 schools. Below 50 percent included Thomas Jefferson at 47.7 percent, San Francisco at 47.4 percent, Golden Gate at 39.3 percent and Whittier at 37.7 percent. If you find yourself attending one of these schools, you may want to have a backup plan.

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Many see the high fail rate as a direct result of the slackening admission standards. However Hastings acting Dean David Faigman points out, “As an aside, let me express my utter incredulity with the conduct of the Committee of Bar Examiners of the State Bar of California. The pass-rate for first-time takers of ABA accredited California law schools was 62%. In comparison, New York’s bar-pass rate was 83%. The California Bar is effectively saying that 38% of graduates from ABA accredited law schools are not qualified to practice law. This is outrageous and constitutes unconscionable conduct on the part of a trade association that masquerades as a state agency. However shameful the State Bar’s conduct, it does not relieve us of our obligation to fully prepare our students to pass the bar exam.”

There is no doubt that California has one of the hardest, if not hardest tests in the country. With the proposed ABA accreditation standard of requiring 75 percent looming, California schools could be in for a challenge. Only six of the state’s 21 schools currently have over 75 percent passing rates.

University of Illinois Dean Vikram Amar said, “We must deal with the fact that the new rue will have much harsher effects in a few states – like California – that have low bar pass rates, not because exam takers in those states are less prepared, but because those states have a much higher threshold required for passing.”

The California bar has been releasing less school-by-school data perhaps because of their blaring problem with getting students to pass the bar. Even the dean of Stanford couldn’t pass the bar on the first try.

Do you the California bar exam is to tough? Tell us in the comments below.

To learn more about the California bar exam, read these articles:




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