2 law schools found to be out of compliance with ABA’s bar passage standard
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The Golden Gate University School of Law in San Francisco and the Western New England University School of Law in Massachusetts recently received notices that they are out of compliance with the ABA’s bar exam passage standard for law schools.
According to the notices from the council of the ABA’s Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar sent to Golden Gate University and Western New England University, both schools are in noncompliance with Standard 316, which requires accredited law schools to have a two-year bar pass rate of at least 75%.
Golden Gate University’s two-year pass rate for 2018 graduates was 57.5%, according to a 2021 bar passage report that it filed with the ABA. Meanwhile, Western New England University’s two-year pass rate for 2018 graduates was 64.79%, according to its 2021 report.
The notices sent to the two schools state that the ABA council reached its determinations of noncompliance at its Nov. 18 to 19 meeting. Both schools have been asked to submit reports to the ABA council by Feb. 1 and to appear at the council’s May 19 to 21 meeting.
Colin Crawford, dean of Golden Gate University’s law school, told the ABA Journal that since joining the law school in June, his No. 1 priority has been improving the school’s bar passage rates.
The school has hired a nationally recognized consultant to study its academic support and bar pass program and hired an additional bar pass professional trained at one of the country’s top bar pass programs, according to Crawford. Golden Gate University also has restructured its early bar pass and practical legal writing courses to make them more rigorous and require that they be taken for credit.
“GGU has always placed a premium on preparing our students for legal professions, and we have been rededicating our efforts to ensure strong bar passage rates for graduates,” Crawford wrote in an email. “We are confident that the ABA will recognize that progress when we report to it in February 2022.”
Sudha Setty, dean of Western New England University’s law school, told the ABA Journal that the law school has worked “extremely hard” in recent years to strengthen its bar passage outcomes.
“We have made great progress in this endeavor, with significant year-over-year improvements for the class of 2019 and 2020,” Setty wrote in an email. “We are on track to be in compliance with Standard 316 and look forward to reporting that information to the ABA early next year.”
Golden Gate University and Western New England University have also received other notices of noncompliance from the ABA in recent years.
In April 2018, Golden Gate University was found to be out of compliance with Standard 501(b), which requires that law schools only admit candidates who appear capable of finishing law school and passing a bar exam. The school was also out of compliance with Interpretations 501-1, 501-2 and 501-3. In March 2020, the ABA notified the law school that it was back in compliance.
In September 2019, Western New England University received a notice that it was out of compliance with Standard 202(a) and Standard 202(d), which pertain to a school’s financial resources. In November 2019, the ABA informed the school that it was back in compliance.