Summary: The February bar exam results for Ohio are available, shining an overall positive light on the health of the law school programs in the state.
Even with the challenges brought by lower enrollment numbers, Ohio’s nine law schools have proved the hard work was worth it. In a fight to attract top students, many law schools were forced to reduce enrollment numbers and standards and put some innovation into their curriculum, according to Cleveland Business.
The Ohio Supreme Court released the results of the February bar exam, which is commonly a less popular exam than the July bar exam. Of the Ohio schools, Case Western Reserve University School of Law had the highest overall passage rate of 64 percent. Two law schools tied for second place at 59 percent – Cleveland State University and University of Toledo. In third came the University of Akron School of Law at 56 percent.
When looking closer at the first-time bar taker rates, Cleveland-Marshall took the top spot with 82 percent passing. Toledo was close behind with 78 percent while Case Western took third with a strong 71 percent.
For the entire state, there were 374 Ohio law students that took the February bar exam. Of those students, just over half passed, or 52 percent, and 174 were first-time exam takers with 67 percent of them passing.
Case Western’s deans were satisfied with the results. The school changed their general education requirements for upper-class students and pushed for faculty to administer more closed-book exams and student assessments throughout the semester a few years ago. Co-deans Jessica Berg and Michael Scharf said, “The 2017 graduating class was the first to complete all three years of the new curriculum, and what we are seeing with our higher July 2017 and February 2018 pass rates reflects the hard work of our students and validates the efforts of our faculty to make this law school a top destination for students in Ohio and throughout the nation.”
Cleveland-Marshall dean Lee Fisher also felt his school did well on the exam. Fisher created a program at the law school that paired each bar-taker with a mentor and enrolled them in a commercial bar exam preparation course. He said, “Today we appreciate the rising success of our law school, as also evidenced by our recent 14-point increase in our U.S. News national ranking, the 4th largest increase of any law school in the nation.”
Akron’s law school dean Christopher Peters was pleased with the results but ultimately disappointed. He said the school has a goal for 100 percent passage rates for its graduates “so anything less than that is disappointing.” Their ultimate passage rate, which considers scores of test-takers within two years of graduation, was 92 percent for the 2015 graduating class.
Peters added, “Currently we employ three full-time academic success professionals who work with our students, individually and in groups, to optimize their chances of success in law school, on the bar exam, and in law practice. We enroll at-risk students in a special first-year legal reasoning program, offer a full slate of bar-track courses, use bar questions as assessment tools in many of our required courses, and teach two specialized bar-prep courses for students in their final year of study. …Of course, we can always do better, and we will continue to assess and adjust our approach with the goal of 100% bar passage by our graduates.”
Do you think it is reasonable to expect any law school to get a 100 percent passage rate? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.
To learn more about the bar passage rates in other states, read these articles:
- Florida Law Schools Post Low Bar Passage Rates
- Arizona Summit Law School Has Second-Lowest Two-Year Bar Passage Rates
- Charlotte School of Law First-Time Test Takers All Fail Bar Exam