Legal Education

Numbers show slight increase in two-year bar pass rates

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Based on data for 2019 graduates, the two-year bar passage rate for ABA-accredited law schools has increased to 91.17%.

If you include 2019 graduates admitted to a bar through diploma privilege, the pass rate is 91.27%, according to an April 26 news release. Last year’s two-year bar passage rate, which used class of 2018 data, was 90.1%.

Additionally, the first-time test-taker pass rate for 2021 graduates was 79.86%, or 80.28% if admission by diploma privilege is included in the data. For 2020 graduates, the first-time pass rate including diploma privilege was 83.66%. Five jurisdictions had emergency diploma privilege in 2020, and all went back to bar exams for the February 2021 administration.

In May 2019, the council of the ABA’s Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar revised Standard 316 to require that at least 75% of a law school’s graduates who take a bar exam pass within two years of graduation. The previous standard could have been met in various ways, including having a 75% pass rate for all graduates over the five most recent calendar years.

Bill Adams, managing director of ABA accreditation and legal education, noted in the Tuesday news release that bar passage rates are important consumer informatio, but not compliance reports for Standard 316.

“That is a separate and distinct matter,” Adams wrote.

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