Back in November, when we broke the news about the release of the California bar results from the July 2012 administration of the exam, after celebrating their success or bemoaning their failure, people immediately wanted to know about the pass rates by law school. Alas, the only information we had at the time was about the overall pass rate — 55.3 percent. The pass rate was 68 percent for all first-time takers.

We also knew about the overall pass rates for first-time takers who attended ABA-accredited law schools, both in-state (77 percent) and out-of-state (64 percent). But now, just a little more than a month later, we know all of the individual California bar exam pass rates for law schools nationwide.

Last year, we praised USC Law for its top performance on the exam. But this year, we’ve got a different victor. Which law school took home the glory this time around?

Congratulations go out to Stanford Law School, which posted a 93.7 percent pass rate. The school had an off year in 2011 (an 88.9 percent pass rate — still good, but not good enough for the #2 school in the nation), but now gets to reclaim all of the accolades it garnered back in 2010 for making top marks on the California exam.

But what about the “real” second-best law school in the nation? Of course, we’re talking about Cooley Law School. We’ll get to that hot mess later when we talk about out-of-state pass rates. For now, here’s a chart of the July 2012 bar performances for all 21 ABA-accredited California law schools (gavel bang: TaxProf Blog):

First, check out UC Irvine’s pass rate. The school hasn’t even been ranked by U.S. News yet, and its graduates still managed to post the second-best results in the state. You’ve earned our respect for a job well done, because it certainly looks like all of that free tuition for the inaugural class paid off for the school.

But yet again, our eyes have been drawn to the end of the list because yet again, the oft-maligned Thomas Jefferson School of Law came in dead last in terms of performance on the California bar exam. Let’s give them some credit where credit is due: at least the school didn’t post a 33.3 percent pass rate like in 2011. This year, TJSL had a more “respectable” pass rate of 52.33 percent. Maybe the school’s special bar prep course actually worked — if you can count a little bit more than half passing the exam as a success, that is.

Here are some brief notes as to the rest of the pass rates for California’s law schools (accredited or not):

  • Way to go, Western State! Not only did this second tier, rank-not-published law school beat the state average, but it also lapped several schools that were ranked numerically by U.S. News.
  • Of the nine law schools that saw decreases in their bar pass rates, Loyola LA bore the brunt of the state’s shame with a 5.3 point drop. Ouch. And it tied with an RNP school, no less.
  • Aside from TJSL’s performance, of the 11 law schools that saw increases in their pass rates, Whittier popped with a 14.1 point raise. Nice work (not that a 69.7% pass rate is so great).
  • Of California’s gaggle of unaccredited law schools, four posted better pass rates than some of the schools listed above. What does that say about the schools that fell below 70 percent?

Enough about California’s law schools. Let’s chat about out-of-state schools and their pass rates for the July 2012 administration of the California bar exam. Here are the five schools with the highest pass rates:

  • 100%: Arizona State (8 test-takers)
  • 94%: Yale (31 test-takers)
  • 92%: Harvard (89 test-takers)
  • 91%: UVA Law (22 test-takers)
  • 89%: Penn Law (36 test-takers)

Aww, Harvard fell below Stanford. Figures. Here are the five law schools with the lowest pass rates:

  • 25%: Gonzaga (8 test-takers)
  • 25%: UNLV (8 test-takers)
  • 22%: Florida Coastal (9 test-takers)
  • 20%: Loyola-New Orleans (5 test-takers)
  • 17%: Thomas Cooley (18 test-takers)

Oh, Cooley. You never fail to entertain us. In the battle of the second-best law schools, you lose in California.

What are your thoughts on the bar passage rates for California’s law schools? Feel free to discuss — to brag about your law school or alma mater, talk trash, or offer dispassionate analysis — in the comments.

General Statistics Report – July 2012 California Bar Examination [State Bar of California]
July 2012 California Bar Exam Results [TaxProf Blog]

Earlier: California Bar Exam Results Are Out; Congratulations to Everyone Who Passed!
California Bar Passage Rate Holds Steady; Shame For Underperforming Schools Deepens
2010 California Bar Exam Results By Law School: Open Thread


comments sponsored by

18 comments (hidden for your protection) Show all comments