The Big Fail: Why Bar Pass Rates Have Sunk To Record Lows

“From a dean’s standpoint, there is no greater tragedy than someone coming to law school—wanting to practice law—and not passing the bar,” [South Dakota Dean Thomas Geu] said. …

In the first in a series about the high percentage of law graduates failing the bar and the impact on law schools and the legal profession, examines how far rates have dropped in recent years and the reasons for the decline.

The falloff has been national in scope. The average score on the Multistate Bar Exam—the multiple choice portion of the test—sank to a 34-year low on the July 2018 administration, according to the National Conference of Bar Examiners.

In California, the overall pass rate fell from 56 percent in July 2013 to 41 percent last July. Texas’ pass rate declined from 81 percent to 65 percent over that time period, while New York’s fell from 69 percent to 63 percent. Florida’s July 2018 pass rate was 67 percent—10 percent lower than five years earlier, while Pennsylvania’s July pass rate was 6 percent lower.