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February 24, 2023

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

CHICAGO, Feb. 24, 2023 —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, 91.44% of 2020 law graduates who sat for a bar exam passed it within two years of graduation (91.87% with Diploma Privilege). The two-year “ultimate” aggregate success rate is slightly better than the 91.27% comparable figure for 2019 graduates. The 2020 ultimate bar pass data also reveals that 92.58% of all graduates sat for a bar exam within two years of graduation, and that schools were able to obtain bar passage information from 98.56% of 2020 graduates.

First-time takers in 2022 achieved an aggregate 73.87% pass rate (78.33% with diploma privilege), which is approximately a 2-percentage point decrease over the comparable 80.28% pass rate (with diploma privilege) for 2021. Consistent with last year, those admitted to the practice of law solely based on their graduation status are considered bar passers.

Bill Adams, managing director of ABA accreditation and legal education, noted that 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. He also pointed out that the latest data “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,” he added. “But we have found 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.”

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.

Additional bar passage information that will include gender and race statistics on a national basis is expected to be released in the first half of March.

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.