3 law schools dinged for low bar pass rates
Updated: On Tuesday, the ABA posted notice that the Ave Maria School of Law, the University of the District of Columbia David A. Clarke School of Law and Vermont Law School are out of compliance with Standard 316, which requires a bar passage rate of at least 75% within a two-year time period.
The most recent bar pass data, which the council of the ABA’s Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar released in April, is based on 2019 graduates. In notices dated Dec. 13, the council asked the three schools to submit reports by Feb. 1. The reports will be considered when the council meets in May.
At the Ave Maria School of Law, its two-year bar pass rate was 67.21% for 2019 graduates and 83.58% for 2018 graduates.
In a statement, the law school described its 2019 bar passage rates as “an anomaly.” Immediate steps were taken to correct that, according to the law school, which claims that its class of 2020 two-year bar passage rate is now at 89.7%. The law school expects the matter to be resolved with the council in February.
At the University of the District of Columbia David A. Clarke School of Law, it law school’s two-year bar pass rate is 67.24% for the class of 2019. The class of 2018 had a 75.38% bar pass rate.
Twinette Johnson, the acting dean of the University of the District of Columbia David A. Clarke School of Law, told the ABA Journal that her school’s 2019 graduates who didn’t pass a bar on their first attempts faced problems in 2020 because of pandemic complications surrounding the tests.
“I believe some of our class of 2019 lost the opportunity to take the bar,” Johnson says.
The law school was also found to be out of compliance with Standard 316 in May 2020. In August 2020, the council determined that the law school had come back into compliance with Standard 316.
For Vermont Law School, 2019 graduates had a 67.54% bar pass rate, compared to 82.84% for 2018 graduates.
“We were surprised and disappointed to learn in the fall of 2019 that our July bar passage had dropped,” the law school said in a statement, which described its class of 2019 bar pass rate as “an anomaly.”
According to the statement, the law school has devoted resources to its academic success program and teaching program and has reviewed admissions policies and procedures.
Earlier this year, the council posted notice that the Western Michigan University Thomas M. Cooley Law School received a two-year extension to come into compliance with Standard 316.
Later in the year, the council gave a three-year extension for bar pass compliance to the Inter American University of Puerto Rico School of Law and the Pontifical Catholic University of Puerto Rico School of Law.
Updated Dec. 15 at 8:09 a.m. to include the statement from Vermont Law School.