Legal Ed Section's council proposes tighter bar-passage requirement for law school accreditation
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The governing council of the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar has tentatively approved a proposal that would tighten and simplify the bar passage requirement in the law school accreditation standards.
Under the proposal (PDF), a law school would have to show that at least 75 percent of its graduates who took a bar exam within two years of their graduation passed.
The proposal, if adopted, would eliminate altogether the first-time bar passage test contained in the current standard (PDF), which a law school can meet by showing that its first-time bar passage rate is no more than 15 points below the average first-time bar passage rate for ABA-approved schools in states where its graduates took the exam.
It would keep what is known in the current standard as the ultimate bar passage test, which a law school can meet by showing that at least 75 percent of its graduates who took an exam in three of the five years passed. But it would shorten the time frame for demonstrating compliance from five to two years.
The council, which met March 11 and 12 in Phoenix, voted to put the proposal out for notice and comment, and will hold at least one public hearing on the matter. It is expected to come back to the council for final consideration at its October meeting in Chicago.
At its meeting in Phoenix, the council also voted to seek notice and comment on a proposal that would provide a new means of enforcing the requirement that a law school only admit applicants who appear capable of graduating and being admitted to the bar.
That proposal would create a rebuttable presumption that a law school with an attrition rate above 20 percent (not including transfers) is operating out of compliance with the standards.
It too will be the subject or one or more public hearings and is expected to come back to the council for final consideration in October.
At its meeting in Phoenix, the council also approved several changes in the standards, including one that would do away with the longstanding prohibition on students receiving academic credit for paid externships. Those changes will now go to the House of Delegates, which can concur with the changes or refer them back to the council for reconsideration, at the ABA Annual Meeting in San Francisco in August.
The council also directed the staff to further explore the idea of merging the Standards Review and Data Policy and Collection committees into one committee.
But it tabled a package of proposed changes in the standards’ non-discrimination and diversity and inclusion requirements, as well as two alternative proposals to the current requirement (PDF) that all applicants take a valid and reliable admissions test.