Bar Exams, Law Professors, Law Schools

Law Professor Calls Entering Class ‘Overall Average Students’ While Advocating for a Bar Exam Focused Curriculum

I think that law schools should focus more on making sure their students are able to get jobs after graduation. But emphasizing career services doesn’t help anybody if students can’t pass the bar. Making sure that students can pass the bar is perhaps the first goal of a competent law school.

Unlike Thomas Jefferson Law, where apparently they think an atrocious bar passage rate doesn’t have anything to do with the faculty, most law schools try to make sure that their students can pass the bar. Except perhaps for elite schools. At top schools, the faculty assumes the strong academic record of their entering students will result in dutiful bar preparation with a test prep company. The elite law school curriculum instead focuses on theory.

But if you don’t attract the very best students, then your law school needs to focus a little more on the nuts and bolts of passing a state bar exam. A law professor at a lower ranked school made that point to the rest of the faculty and students during a debate about a change to the school’s curriculum. But some of the students are getting a little butthurt after being called “average”….

Apparently, there is a debate at Creighton University School of Law on whether its first year curriculum should be revamped. Currently, Creighton’s first year program is focused on teaching kids things they’ll need to perform well on the Multistate Bar Exam. Some faculty have moved away from such a heavy bar focus, and that inspired Creighton Law professor Kent J. Neumeister to write a 22-page memo to all faculty defending the current Creighton system. The memo was then somehow forwarded to all the Creighton students. There’s a lot of straight talk from Professor Neumeister:

Actually, Creighton fell to #135 in the new U.S. News Law rankings.

Personally, I think Professor Neumeister is right on the money that given the school’s high tuition and unfavorable student-faculty ratio, actually helping people pass the bar is a nice selling point for the school. But you can understand that Creighton Law students don’t appreciate having their basic bar competence characterized as “amazing.” As one tipster said:

It is absolutely insulting to any Creighton law student calling them “average at best”.

Sure. But once you get over the initial ego-bruising, it’s pretty clear that Professor Neumeister isn’t trying to slam Creighton Law students. He’s advocating things that he believes are great about the law school.

And he’s showing a faculty commitment to giving students value for their money:

There are students at probably 100 other law schools who would love it if their faculty members seriously thought about how to give them value for the cost of tuition. Note that he’s not saying that Creighton should stop admitting so many people with crappy LSAT scores. He’s not suggesting that Creighton do something to game the U.S. News rankings. He’s just saying that they’re charging people $31K, so the faculty might as well give them something for the money.

Look, there’s a lot worse things that happen at schools ranked around where Creighton is. I think Professor Neumeister is just trying to make sure that Creighton continues doing what works for its students. There’s nothing wrong with that.

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