California Bar Journal
CBJ - August 2012 #04.
Proposal would link law school accreditation to exam pass rates
The California LawyerAugust 2012Proposal would link law school accreditation to exam pass ratesBy Amy YarbroughStaff WriterConcerned that current guidelines don't hold law schools to clear enough standards, the State Bar could require schools to maintain a minimum bar exam passage rate to keep their California accreditation.
Proposed rules and guidelines being circulated for public comment would require a 50 percent, cumulative pass rate over a five-year period. Comments will be accepted until Sept. 17 and the Committee of Bar Examiners will consider the proposal at its October meeting.
Current guidelines for granting state accreditation to law schools look at multiple factors including "the cumulative success of the law school's graduates on the California Bar examination." Since the current rules and guidelines were adopted in 2009, however, "cumulative success" has never been defined and there has been no suggested timeline for gauging that success, according to Gayle Murphy, senior director for admissions.
"You have to start somewhere and as an accredited school you should have to jump over a higher hurdle," Murphy told the Board of Trustees' Regulation, Admissions and Discipline Oversight Committee at its recent meeting. The Board of Trustees would have final say on the proposal in November.
Murphy said she expects most of the 17 California-accredited law schools will meet the proposed bar passage requirement by 2015. Even so, some deans say the proposal is unfair because it would retroactively hold schools responsible for pass rates that pre-date the changes.
Lincoln Law School of San Jose Dean Joseph Moless Jr. said his problems with the proposal also include the fact that there seems to be no justification as to why the 50-percent figure was chosen.
"It's one thing to regulate, but regulate has to have a rational nexus," he said.
Southern California Institute of Law Dean Stanislaus Pulle, who together with Moless and former State Bar president Anthony Capozzi submitted written opposition to the proposal, said he is particularly concerned the change will stifle innovation, forcing law schools to act like glorified bar review courses.
"In my opinion, the worst thing is, it is transforming the way in...