Shocking results from the February 2017 administration of the California bar exam were released on May 12, 2017. Given the disappointing overall pass rate, people have been wondering about the pass rates by law school ever since.
The only information we’ve had until now has been the frighteningly low overall, first-time taker, and repeat taker pass rates of 34.5 percent, 39 percent, and 33 percent, respectively. We also knew the overall pass rates for first-time takers who attended ABA-accredited law schools, both in-state (45 percent) and out-of-state (39 percent). Granted, February pass rates are generally lower than July pass rates due to the number of repeat takers, but here at Above the Law, we are focused on first-time takers, and these pass rates are very, very low.
Less than one month has passed, and now we know all of the bar exam pass rates for California law schools. It appears that the State Bar of California has not published this information on its website (or if it has been published to the website, it’s not as easily accessible as one would hope, despite the site’s recent redesign which aimed to increase accessibility of information). This information was only given to law schools and several reporters, myself included.
Which in-state law schools did the best on the test, and which schools did the worst? We now pass that information along to our readers, with the caveat that it only includes California law schools that had at least 11 first-time and repeat takers, or no first-time takers and at least 11 repeat takers. The Bar disseminates information in this manner to help shield the identities of graduates of law schools that had fewer test-takers during each administration of the bar exam.
Here’s a list we’ve created of pass rates for first-time takers on the February 2017 administration of the exam for all ABA-accredited California law schools that had 11 or more test-takers for the exam. Take a look:
- Santa Clara: 69 percent
- Loyola (LA): 67 percent
- Western State: 67 percent
- UCLA: 64 percent
- Pepperdine: 59 percent
- U. San Diego: 53 percent
- McGeorge: 50 percent
- STATEWIDE AVERAGE: 45 PERCENT
- California Western: 45 percent
- Golden Gate: 33 percent
- U. San Francisco: 31 percent
- UC Hastings: 27 percent
- Southwestern: 24 percent
- Thomas Jefferson: 24 percent
Law schools missing from this list include Stanford, USC, UC Berkeley, UC Irvine, UC Davis, Chapman, La Verne, and Whittier, which means that fewer than 11 graduates sat for the exam in February as first-time or repeat takers.
What is to be done about the grading of the California bar exam, which is moving to a two-day format this summer? Is it that California’s passing score is too high, or that those who take the exam are somehow less able than test-takers in other states? The Wall Street Journal opines on a possible answer to this question:
The state bar is now working to complete a series of studies by the fall that will help the state Supreme Court decide what to do. Some states have moved their passing score down in past decades, though more have raised it.
“We intend to let the results of these studies guide the direction we take and the recommendations we make,” said Leah Wilson, the chief operating officer of the state bar, who added that the agency is concerned about the falling passage rates.
What are your thoughts on the bar pass rates for California’s law schools? Feel free to contact us by email, by text message (646-820-8477), or by tweet (@ATLblog). We look forward to seeing what you think.
(Flip the page to see February 2017 bar pass data for California law schools.)
California’s Tough Bar Exam, Long a Point of Pride, Faces Pushback [Wall Street Journal]
Earlier: California’s Bar Exam Results Are Absolutely Abysmal
Staci Zaretsky has been an editor at Above the Law since 2011. She’d love to hear from you, so please feel free to email her with any tips, questions, or comments. You can follow her on Twitter or connect with her on LinkedIn.