Legal Education

Law school with bar pass rate under 75% threshold considers its future

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The University of La Verne in California, which had a first-time bar passage rate of 31.49% for 2018, has assembled a committee to consider the future of its law school, following a recent change that tightened bar passage requirements for ABA-accredited law schools.

As of May, Standard 316 requires that at least 75% of a law school’s graduates who sat for a bar exam must pass within two years of graduation.

ABA data that lists the law school’s 2018 first-time pass rate also shows that most of its graduates sit for the California bar exam. California hasn’t released July 2019 bar results yet. But for the February 2019 exam, which was taken by 49 University of LaVerne College of Law graduates, the pass percentage rate was 12%, according to California bar data.

Options for the future include closing the law school, the Daily Bulletin reports. The university’s board of trustees will consider all options, Rod Leveque, the university’s spokesperson, told the ABA Journal. According to him, law students have been assured that the university has a full commitment to making sure they finish their studies and graduate.

“Broadly speaking, this is in response to changes in the ABA accreditation standards. Basically, they’re looking at what it would take, in terms of financial and admissions investments, to move forward, to make sure we could stay in alignment with the standard,” Leveque says.

According to Leveque, the university is not assessing the future of its other graduate programs, and he did not have an estimate on what it would cost to get and keep the law school at an ultimate bar pass rate of at least 75%. Its most recent ultimate bar passage rate, which focuses on a school’s bar passage rates over a two-year period and this year examines 2016 graduates, is 74.47%, according to the ABA data.

Financial support from the university to the law school has varied over the years, Leveque says. According to the law school’s Standard 509 Information Report for 2018, it had a total of 285 students, and 20% of the student body received grants and scholarships valued at less than half the cost of tuition.

The law school’s website lists full-time tuition as $14,420 per semester, and part-time tuition is $12,360. Leveque says the University of La Verne has the only law school in the Inland Empire area in California, which is adjacent to Los Angeles County and includes western Riverside County and southwestern San Bernardino County. The law school was provisionally approved by the ABA in 2012 and has been fully accredited since 2016.

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