American Bar Association Standards Review Committee Cited For Bar
Passage Accreditation Changes
Proposal Would Discriminate Against Minority Serving Institutions
WASHINGTON, DC — On January 29, 2014, the National Bar Association (National Bar) called on the Standards Review Committee (SRC) of the American Bar Association (ABA) to delay approving new accreditation standards without first conducting a study of ultimate bar passage rates.
The National Bar praised the SRC for stepping away from a proposal that would require law schools to prove that every graduating class achieve an ultimate pass rate of 80 percent. Said proposal would have had a disparate impact on law schools that admit larger numbers of African American, Hispanic, and Asian students.
The National Bar wrote to the ABA and included a detailed analysis of SRC's proposal on law graduates in each state over a five-year period. The analysis reflects that schools enrolling larger numbers of African American, Hispanic, and Asian students take the bar exam in more challenging jurisdictions with lower bar pass rates.
“Everyone has the goal of consumer protection,” stated Patricia Rosier, President, National Bar Association. “But standards should be thoughtfully constructed. The Standards Review Committee has failed to base its proposal on any publicly available data on ultimate pass rates, or any evidence that bar examinations and pass rates are reliable, valid measures of the abilities of graduates to practice law. The unintended consequence will cause many law schools to limit enrollment to students with higher standardized test scores instead of allowing students to prove they can succeed,” added Rosier.
Across the country, overall pass rates vary widely by jurisdiction and range in the low to middle 70’s. The current accreditation standard of 75 percent has been in effect since 2008 and is accepted by the U.S. Department of Education. Currently, law schools must demonstrate that three out of five graduating classes meet the 75% mark or graduates from the school average 75%. The SRC has proposed that law schools must show that every graduating class achieved an ultimate pass rate of 75% without exception, regardless of the pass rates in the jurisdictions where the school's graduates sit for the exam.
Click here to view the National Bar Association letter and study.
The National Bar Association was founded in 1925 and is the nation's oldest and largest national network of predominantly African American attorneys and judges. It represents approximately 59,000 lawyers, judges, law professors and law students and has over 80 affiliate chapters throughout the United States and around the world. For more information, visit: www.nationalbar.org