What’s wrong with California? Stanford, California-Berkeley, UCLA, and USC are all outside of the top 20. According to Robert Anderson, Associate Professor of Law at Pepperdine, California has the nation’s most difficult bar exam (which has been corroborated by Focus Bar Review). Anderson calculates that the average passage rate on the California bar is 72.22%, making it one of the most difficult bar exams in the nation. As a result, the 87.2% passage rate reported by both Boalt Hall and USC far exceeds the mean. What’s more, Berkeley ranks #6 both among academics and legal professionals according to U.S. News, which illustrates just how difficult the California bar really is.
The University of Minnesota ranked third in bar passage, with a 99.3% average in 2013. Despite this, the school managed a drab 75.2% placement rate for graduates after nine months, which could indicate slow hiring in Minnesota and surrounding states. Along with the Gophers, only Harvard Law, Emory, Vanderbilt and Northwestern registered a higher bar passage ranking than overall ranking.
Ironically, DC-area icons Georgetown and George Washington ranked #43 and #44 for bar passage, with Georgetown taking the biggest tumble between its overall and bar passage rankings. Still, these schools are ranked #11 and #24 respectively by legal professionals in the latest U.S. News survey, meaning graduates should continue to command $160,000 starting salaries in the public sector.
The University of Pennsylvania didn’t fare much better, ranking #7 overall and #30 in bar passage. The numbers also reflects a barely perceptible decline at Penn Law. Despite maintaining its #7 ranking, the school dropped an index point in U.S. News’ rankings. However, Penn Law dipped to #9 and #11 when ranked by academics and legal professionals respectively. This bares monitoring.
Want to Pass the Bar? Head to Wisconsin
So where is the teaching underrated? Try the Midwest. Among the 30 schools with the highest bar passage rates (outside the top 20 ranked schools overall), Midwest (and plains) schools constitute nearly half of them. Here are where the remaining top 50 schools for bar passage rank:
(See following pages for full analysis and tables)