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March 11, 2024

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

CHICAGO, March 11, 2024 —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.

In addition to the numbers on bar passage, the data incorporates those who become licensed to practice law by alternative pathways. These graduates are admitted to the practice of law and are considered bar passers without sitting for a bar examination.

The new data shows that in the aggregate, 90.40% of 2021 law graduates who sat for a bar exam passed it within two years of graduation (90.53% with alternative pathways). The two-year “ultimate” aggregate success rate is lower than the 91.85% comparable figure for 2020 graduates. The 2021 ultimate bar pass data also reveals that 95.41% of all graduates sat for a bar exam within two years of graduation, and that schools were able to obtain bar passage information from 98.49% of 2021 graduates.

First-time takers in 2023 achieved an aggregate 79.18% pass rate (79.44% with alternative pathways), which is more than a 1 percentage point increase over the comparable 78.15% pass rate (with alternative pathways) for 2022.

The information released today includes charts that include aggregate data in different ethnicity categories for information collected in 2023 and 2024 broken down by gender.

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.

“These public reports continue to provide important consumer information for students considering whether and where to attend law school and for others with an interest in the quality of legal education,” Adams said. “While we compile and report these results for 196 ABA-approved law schools, individual jurisdictions set the rules or ‘cut scores’ for passage itself.”

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. View our privacy statement online. Follow the latest ABA news at and on X (formerly Twitter) @ABANews.