February 18, 2020

ABA Section of Legal Education releases comprehensive report on bar passage data

CHICAGO, Feb. 18, 2020 —The Managing Director’s Office of the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar released today a comprehensive set of data on bar passage outcomes for American Bar Association-approved law schools. Spreadsheets are available on the section’s webpage under Legal Education Statistics, which report these outcomes on a school-by-school basis and in more detail.

The new data shows that in the aggregate, 89.5% of 2017 law graduates who sat for a bar exam passed it within two years of graduation. The two-year “ultimate” aggregate success rate is slightly better than the 88.64% comparable figure for 2016 graduates. The 2017 ultimate bar pass data also reveals that 97.1% of all graduates sat for a bar exam within two years of graduation, and that schools were able to obtain bar passage information from 98.6% of 2017 graduates.

First-time takers in 2019 achieved an aggregate 79.64% pass rate, which is nearly a 5-percentage point increase over the comparable 74.83% pass rate for 2018.

“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.”

The collection of this data requires a considerable investment of time and resources by law schools. Currier said there is no other single outcome that better measures whether a law school is offering a rigorous program of legal education to a group of students that the school has determined through its admissions process are likely capable of completing the J.D. program and being admitted to the bar.

“The council of the section very much appreciates the work that law schools do to gather and report these outcomes,” he added.

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