Bar Exam

Most California ABA-accredited law schools see first-time bar pass rates rise in July 2017

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Seventeen of California's 21 ABA-accredited law schools saw first-time test-taker pass rates increase for the July 2017 bar exam. Four of those 17 schools recorded first-time pass rates below 55 percent.

Rick Hasen, a University of California Irvine School of Law professor, posted school-specific bar results (PDF) on his website, Election Law Blog. For graduates of ABA-accredited law schools in California, the average July 2017 first-time pass rate was 70 percent, according to a state bar news release.

In October, the California Supreme Court nixed a request to lower the state’s bar cut score from 1440. Earlier in the year, the State Bar of California’s Committee of Bar Examiners voted 13-1 to recommend keeping the bar cut score the same while the bar’s Law School Council endorsed lowering it to between 1350 and 1390.

California law schools with pass rates below 55 percent for first-time test takers in July 2017 included University of San Francisco School of Law (54 percent of 128 test takers), San Francisco’s Golden Gate University School of Law (51 percent of 70 test takers), Ontario’s University of La Verne College of Law (41 percent of 34 test takers) and Whittier Law School (38 percent of 125 test takers). Compared to the previous year’s rates, however, all four schools showed an increase. The first-time test-taker pass rate for July 2016 was 36 percent at USF; 31 percent at Golden Gate and LaVerne; and 22 percent at Whittier, according to data from the Faculty Lounge blog.

In April, Whittier announced it would close.

San Diego’s Thomas Jefferson School of Law, which was placed on probation by the ABA in November, had a first-time test-taker pass rate of 30 percent in July 2017—the lowest among ABA-accredited law schools in California. This was a decrease for the school, which in the state’s July 2016 California bar had a first-time test-taker pass rate of 31 percent, according to the Faculty Lounge blog.

Among California ABA-accredited law schools with first-time test-taker pass rates above 55 percent in July 2017, two schools in the University of California system saw significant increases over percentages from July 2016. UC Davis School of Law had a 79 percent pass rate, compared to 72 percent in 2016, while San Francisco’s UC Hastings College of Law was at 61 percent, up from 51 percent.

Santa Clara University School of Law also saw its first-time test-taker pass rate increase to 79 percent in July 2017 from 66 percent in July 2016. Southwestern Law School in Los Angeles had a rate of 57 percent, rising from 38 percent one year earlier. And at Western State University College of Law in Irvine, the July first-time pass rate for 2017 was 56 percent, compared to 42 percent in July 2016.

Stanford Law School had the highest first-time pass rate statewide in July 2017 at 96 percent. UC Berkeley was second at 89 percent, while UCLA and USC tied for third at 88 percent.

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