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Law Schools Prep for Tougher ABA Standards

Law schools across the country are preparing for possible tougher standards on bar passage rate.

azcentral reports that more schools are reviewing their own passage rates and changing data they report as the ABA Council is set to take on a proposal in May that could require law schools to have 75% of their grads who sit for the bar exam pass within two years.

The Proposal

The proposal, which has already been rejected twice by the ABA’s House of Delegates, most recently made its way back to the Council of the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar. According to Law.com, this time, the council can adopt changes without approval from the House of Delegates.

Under the proposal, if less than 75% of a school’s grads don’t pass the bar within two years of graduation, the school could risk losing accreditation. Currently, schools have five years to meet the 75 percent threshold.

A dozen diversity and legal education entities have asked the council to not adopt the new standard. According to Law.com, signees of a letter asking the council to reconsider  include the Hispanic National Bar Association, the Society of American Law Teachers, the Clinical Legal Education Association and a cohort of deans from five law schools at Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

“The overwhelming negative vote of the House of Delegates and strong opposition of so many sections and colleagues indicate that more work and dialogue are needed before action is taken,” the letter reads. “We implore the council to act with restraint and care.”

Critics of the proposal argue that the new standard could hurt diversity since many minority students historically score lower on the LSAT.

Changes Being Made By Schools

A number of law schools are correcting their data in preparation of the new proposal, according to azcentral.

At the University of Wyoming College of Law, data previously only included first-time passers in its ultimate bar-passage rate. The school has now corrected its ultimate bar-passage rate to 92%.

Both Syracuse and Ohio Northern Law have corrected their own ultimate bar-passage rates to exceed 75% over two years.

Sources: azcentral, Law.com, ABA