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August 25, 2014


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terry malloy

Serious question: past standing with the ABA, to what degree is bar passage an appropriate indicator of success for a lower ranked school?

With sufficient time and effort, I could train the average 11 year old to pass the bar in all but NY and California (that would require a 14 year old).

Have I succeeded as a legal educator?


I'm seconding Terry's question. If you took the average bachelor's degree holder, and just trained them on the bar exam for several months, what would the passage rate be?

Another way to put it is what is this law school's 'value above bar course'?

confused by your post

Topic: how law schools can maximize the odds that high risk students will pass the bar.


1. Give Credit for Bar Prep Classes. Integrate bar prep classes into 3L curriculum. Make them electives for performing students. Make them mandatory for poorly performing students. These classes can be treated like any other class for the purpose of awarding credit hours.

2. Financial Incentives for Bar Prep. If a student takes certain pre-approved bar prep classes (BARBRI, etc.) and can prove attendance/benchmarks satisfactory to the school, then the school will rebate tuition, pay for the bar prep class, cut a check to the student, etc.

3. Establish Bar Exam Related Course GPA. Require all students to take and achieve a specified GPA in an identified set of classes known to be heavily tested on the bar exam of the state where the school is located. 1L's who do poorly as a 1L in these identified classes will either be made to repeat them or have it made clear to them that in order to continue as 3L's they must achieve very high grades as 2L's to bring their GPA's up to an acceptable level.

4. Coaching/Tutoring of the At Risk. Identify potential or actual low performing students. Provide additional academic support for those students either by added group or individual coaching or tutoring classes.

Of course, all of these options cost money. Tuition will have to be raised or other expenses will have to be cut in order to offer these options.


What percentage of students at Western take Barbri, Themis, Pieper, or other bar prep classes?

The best thing that a law school could do would be to offer a mandatory bar prep semester and prepare sufficient materials and study schedules to move students through to the bar. At elite law schools a significant portion of the class has their bar prep courses and living expenses subsidized by their law firms.

Anon Prof

Want to add to the list: Work on changing the bar to better reflect the skill-set of a 21st century attorney.

The reason that LSAT scores correlates with bar passage has more to do with how we test than what an entry level lawyer needs to be able to do.

There will always be some students who are at-risk of failing the bar, but if the bar actually came closer to measuring what lawyers do, then it would eliminate the tension between focusing on bar passage vs. preparing people to become lawyers.

Change the bar exam and then it will redefine what "at-risk" even means. Maybe more students will be able to pass and demonstrate that they ought to be attorneys. Maybe even more students will fail, and it will indicate failures in law school admissions and/or curricular content.


Honestly, as a practicing lawyer I think that while the bar exam does not comprehensively measure what lawyers do, it's not as far off as a lot of critics claim. It's certainly far more representative of the practice of law than the law school curriculum.


Twbb, your point is a good one but there is very little incentive to reform the curriculum to better conform to the practice of law since many instructors lack the requisite experience.

Anon Prof


So long as the bar exam continues to operate in a closed world environment of memorization instead of testing the ability to quickly and competently use books, online research tools, and other materials, I'll stand by my prior comment that it isn't sufficiently representative of the practice of law.

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