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New report shows most law school grads passing bar

Data released Friday by the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar shows that 88.57 percent of all 2016 law graduates who sat for a bar exam within two years of graduating passed it.

That two-year success rate is substantially the same as it was for individuals who graduated in 2015, when the ultimate pass rate was 88.49 percent. The latest ultimate bar pass data also reveals that 97 percent of all law school graduates sat for a bar exam within two years of graduation and that some 200 ABA-accredited law schools were able to track 98.5 percent of all graduates. 

First-time law exam takers in 2018 achieved a 74.82 percent pass rate, which compares to a 77.2 percent first-time pass rate for 2017. Result spreadsheets for the past two years are available on the section’s webpage under Legal Education Statistics, which report outcomes on a school-by-school basis and in more detail.

“This information was reported to the ABA by law schools and is being made public as a matter of consumer information under the authority of ABA Standard 509,” said Barry Currier, the section’s managing director. “This report is not a compliance report for ABA Standard 316, which establishes bar exam outcomes that a law school must achieve under the accreditation standards, which is a separate and distinct matter. The public reports do provide important consumer information for students considering whether and where to attend law school and for others with an interest in legal education.”

Outcomes vary by school. The data suggests that the “ultimate” pass rate – the rate of bar passage achieved within the time frame of two years after graduation — increases significantly over time. The first-time pass rate reported for 2016, for example, was 74.3 percent. That success rate rose to 88.6 percent two years later.

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