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California State Bar Pass Rate Declines

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Only 43% of those taking the July, 2016, bar exam passed it. This was the lowest pass rate in 32 years. Of interest is that legislators and the Supreme Court are concerned that the State Bar’s testing may be too tough. They want to find out why California “has such a high standard” (Assemblyman Mark Stone, D-Monterey Bay).

First of all, isn’t that a good thing? Shouldn’t we demand that there be high standards for those practicing law in our state?

And what is the concern of the legislature? They are not concerned with admission and education of lawyers. This is the job of the Supreme Court. Lawyers are officers of the court, and their admission to practice is governed by the oversight of the Supreme Court of the State of California. This includes administration of the bar exam.
The reality is that law schools may be admitting students who don’t have the capacity to succeed on California’s bar exam. In fact, the Los Angeles Daily Journal (a publication for lawyers) reports that deans from 20 of the ABA accredited law schools in the state recently complained about the low passage rate and suggested that the standards be lowered “until a full study of the issue can be completed.” Shouldn’t it be the other way around? It is up to law schools to admit the students that can do the work, perform the studies, and successfully pass the bar exam. It is up to them to prepare the students adequately for that task. The bar exam is not the problem.

Written By James Heiting

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