After last year's flurry of activity, the ABA Standards Review Committee had apparently seemed to back off its proposed changes to the minimum-Bar-passage standards in ABA Interpretation 301-6. After the SRC's meeting last month, its appears that the Committee may be revisiting 301-6. See the article on ABA Journal online by Mark Hanson, ABA Committee to Revisit Bar Passage Accreditation Standard (July 16, 2012). So far as I can tell, the Committee's focus is on reducing the 5-year "look-back" period for eventual (multiple attempts) Bar passage, which is currently 75% overall or in 3-out-of-5 years. Earlier, there had been some talk of going to a 2-out-of-3-year look-back.
I just sent the SRC comments opposing any such change, Comments on Look-back Periods and Eventual Bar Passage Rates. The comments are now available on SSRN (http://ssrn.com/abstract=2121116). Here's the abstract:
In its current review of the ABA Standards and Rules of Procedure for Approval of Law Schools, the Standards Review Committee (SRC) had decided against proposing substantive changes to minimum Bar-passage standards for law schools. At its July 2012 meeting, the SRC indicated that it may be reconsidering the five-year “look-back” period for eventual Bar passage rates (over multiple attempts). In these Comments, I oppose cutting the look-back period. First, the “eventual” passage rate for the most-recent calendar year is primarily a first-time rate. A two-out-of-three-year standard, which some had proposed, would really be a two-out-of-two year standard. Second, the SRC is relying, at best, on overall national rates. Overall rates measure the average performance of law students, and are not appropriate for setting minimum standards for law schools. Overall rates also do not respond to concerns about the effect on minorities and on historically black law schools. Overall national rates also do not account for widely varying state minimum passing (“cut”) scores, which is especially important in setting an absolute, rather than a state-relative, eventual Bar passage rate standard.
As usual, there are some tables and charts. There is more information available about eventual Bar passage rates than you would have thought. Not as much as we need.
posted by Gary Rosin