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Fighting WordsLaw School Fighting Words

On October 23, Erica Moeser, the president of the National Conference of Bar Examiners, sent a memorandum to the nation’s law school deans. The memo called for deans to be attentive to the July 2014 drop in bar exam scores. Though (probably) well intentioned, it all but assuredly rubbed some law deans the wrong way. One of those deans was the Dean of Brooklyn Law School, Nicholas Allard.
Allard wrote a letter back to Moeser. It was salty to say the least. In her original memo, Moeser argued that all signs pointed to the 2014 bar exam takers being less able than their 2013 cohorts. She bolstered his case by noting that at least five states had significant drops in their bar scores, including Washington, Iowa, Oregon, and Idaho (with Texas’ scores declining by 11 percentage points).
And so the finger pointing began. Brooklyn Law School specifically had a percentage drop of 10 points. Allard took it personally. And then he wanted explanations. He wrote, “There is no explanation how you reached your conclusion, nor transparency to your process, so how can we have confidence in this self-serving unaudited assertion? Frankly, your statements ring hollow.” Whoa. Those are fighting words.
But the fact is (as stated above), the percentage points did drop. Considerably. At Allard’s school. His letter said his students did more bar preparation than before. And they still dropped 10 percentage points. Perhaps it was an issue of quantity over quality.
One explanation for bar scores dropping could be the fact that schools are getting fewer applicants. And that could also mean they are getting lower quality in applicants. Sure, it takes a ton of intelligence and hard work to get into and through law school successfully. But perhaps it is a different type of student than those who took the test last year.
Nevertheless, Allard claims, “It is not the students, it’s the test.” He calls for Moeser to answer the questions she raised with her original letter.
Source: The Wall Street Journal
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