Law Students

ABA Rejects Proposed Changes to Bar Passage Requirements
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Summary: The ABA rejected a proposal in their February meeting to change the current bar passage requirements to something tougher.

A proposal went before the American Bar Association to tighten bar passage requirements. The ABA voted against the proposal which would have required accredited law schools to receive a 75 percent passage rate of their students within two years of graduation.

  
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The ABA House of Delegates didn’t just vote against the proposal, they voted against it in overwhelming numbers. The current guidelines, Standard 316, state that a school must have 75 percent of its graduates from the five most recent calendar years pass the bar exam, have a 75 percent pass rate for three of five years, and 70 percent of graduates to pass at a rate within 15 percentage points of the average first-time bar pass rate of graduates at ABA-approved law schools of the same jurisdiction in three out of the past five years. No school has ever been out of compliance with this current standard.

Schools with diverse populations argued that the new proposal would hurt diversity in the legal industry. The National Black Law Students Association stated that the proposal, “fails to address the systemic racial inequities in the law school admission process and in legal education, it disproportionately adversely impacts law students of color and communities of color, and it does nothing to remedy the holistic challenges that face law schools that seek to serve underrepresented communities.”

William Patton, a professor emeritus at Whittier Law School noted that the five ABA-accredited law schools in California that enroll 30 percent of the state’s Hispanic law students and 33 percent of the state’s black students would be most at risk of violating the proposed requirements.

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