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Bar Exam Pass Rates Dip at 9 New York Law Schools: Economy to Blame?

Posted Dec 3, 2009 1:23 PM CDT
By Sarah Mui

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Nine out of New York's 15 law schools saw a decrease in bar passage rates for this July's exam, contributing to a drop in the statewide pass rate to 88 percent from 90 percent in 2008.

New York Law School and Hofstra University School of Law saw the biggest drops, the National Law Journal reported, and "members of the deans' staffs who analyze the data at New York Law and, to a lesser degree, at Hofstra Law" are theorizing that working students had less time to prepare this year because of pressures as a result of the economy.

"Anecdotal information suggests that evening course students in particular had added responsibilities on the job, perhaps due to the layoffs of former colleagues, or a reluctance to request time off for fear of likewise becoming unemployed," the National Law Journal said.

Nora V. Demleitner, the dean at Hofstra, where the passage rate slipped to 79 percent, according to the Am Law Daily isn't herself sold on that explanation. Evening students at Hofstra fared worse than the student body overall, however; 10 out of its 38 evening students failed the exam.

"We'll do our study, and we'll see," Demleitner told the National Law Journal. "We don't really have any ready-made theories."

A record number of hopefuls—11,532—took this year's New York bar exam in July, the New York State Board of Law Examiners reported in a November press release (PDF).

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