Bar Exams, Boalt Hall, California, Law Schools, Loyola Law School

California Bar Passage Rate Holds Steady; Shame For Underperforming Schools Deepens

The picturesque Richard H. Chambers Courthouse in Pasadena, home of the Ninth Circuit.

California has released some macro-level results from the July 2011 administration of the bar exam. The California bar is notoriously difficult, and every year we like to take a look at which schools prepared their students well for the exam, and which schools did not.

Last year, the overall pass rates were 68.3% for all takers and 75.2% for graduates of the twenty ABA-approved law schools in California. This year, overall pass rates clocked in at 67.7%, while students who went to ABA-accredited law schools in California passed at a 76.2% clip.

But you might be surprised at which California law school had the best passage rate on the California bar. Hint: it’s not Stanford, or Boalt Hall, or UCLA….

Test takers out of Stanford Law School still posted an 88.9% passage rate. But the King of Cali was the USC Gould School of Law: 91.1% of first-time USC bar takers passed the big test.

(As for the ten percent dragging USC down, betrayers of the sanctity of USC’s bar passage rate: HAVE YOU NO SHAME?)

Congrats, USC. Maybe the diminished prominence of the football program is helping people focus on academics. Look for the Ohio State Moritz College of Law to pump out a Supreme Court clerk or two!

Here are the bar performances of all accredited California schools, from a handy-dandy chart on Tax Prof Blog. Let’s just say my eyes are drawn to the bottom of the heap:

These numbers show that the oft-maligned Thomas Jefferson School of Law has clearly not been maligned enough. TJSL charges people $40,100 per year in tuition, and two out of three graduates failed the bar the first time around. No wonder this school is getting sued. No wonder people act like the school is a complete joke. No wonder its very existence as an accredited law school makes the entire process of ABA-accreditation look like a complete farce.

In my opinion, a 33% pass rate should result in an immediate revocation of accreditation status and, if there were any justice in this world of rank profiteers, a full refund for the students who paid for a service that so failed to meet their needs. Note that the next lowest school passed over half of their first-time test takers!

I’ll take the Pepsi challenge with those numbers right now. Give me 10 Thomas Jefferson Law students for a year and I’ll find a way to get more than three of them to pass the California bar. Christ on an index card — it’s the bar exam, not organic chemistry. THERE IS NO MATH. Hearsay exceptions, memorize them; two questions down, 198 to go.

Maybe this is a one-year blip. Last year, TJSL passed 58% of its first-time test takers.

Though honestly, if TJSL really did admit a class of students that couldn’t be educated to pass the bar exam at a higher rate, maybe they need to reexamine their entrance standards, instead of turning whoever shows up to their door upside down and shaking them until their law school money falls out.

(Ugh, sorry, maybe I’m overreacting. But I can’t be the only one outraged by a 33% bar passage rate, can I?)

Congratulations to USC, Stanford, and all the other California law schools, accredited or not, that fulfilled their purpose better than Thomas Jefferson School of Law. Feel free to boast or belittle, in the comments.

July 2011 California Bar Exam Results [Tax Prof Blog]

Earlier: California Bar Exam Results By Law School: Open Thread
Student Rats Out Professor, Then Flips Off Rest of Class

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