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April 26, 2022

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

CHICAGO, April 26, 2022 —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 under ABA Required Disclosures on a school-by-school basis and in more detail.

The new data shows that in the aggregate, 91.17% of 2019 law graduates who sat for a bar exam passed it within two years of graduation (91.27% with Diploma Privilege). The two-year “ultimate” aggregate success rate is slightly better than the 90.10% comparable figure for 2018 graduates. The 2019 ultimate bar pass data also reveals that 94.98% of all graduates sat for a bar exam within two years of graduation, and that schools were able to obtain bar passage information from 99.02% of 2019 graduates.

First-time takers in 2021 achieved an aggregate 79.86% pass rate (80.28% with Diploma Privilege), which is approximately a 3-percentage point decrease over the comparable 83.66% pass rate (with Diploma Privilege) for 2020. Consistent with last year, those admitted to the practice of law solely based on their graduation status are considered bar passers.

“As with past years, 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 Bill Adams, managing director of ABA accreditation and legal education. “These public reports provide important consumer information for students considering whether and where to attend law school and for others with an interest in legal education. But 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. That is a separate and distinct matter.”

Law schools devote a considerable investment of time and resources to collect this data. Adams said the bar passage scores represent one of the best measures to determine if a particular law school is offering a rigorous program of legal education to students whom the school has determined through its admissions process are likely capable of completing the J.D. program and being admitted to the bar.

The ABA is the largest voluntary association of lawyers in the world. As the national voice of the legal profession, the ABA works to improve the administration of justice, promotes programs that assist lawyers and judges in their work, accredits law schools, provides continuing legal education, and works to build public understanding around the world of the importance of the rule of law.