Metropolitan News-Enterprise


Tuesday, May 16, 2017


Page 1


Less Than 35 Percent of Applicants Pass February 2017 State Bar Exam




Only 34.5 percent of applicants who took the February 2017 bar exam passed it, the Committee of Bar Examiners reported.

The committee said in a release Friday that 1,532 people achieved the score necessary to join the ranks of the state’s lawyers. They must also pass a moral fitness review in order to be admitted.

The committee said that “preliminary statistical analyses” showed that of the 4,439 applicants who took the latest bar exam, 26 percent were first-time takers. The passing rate for the 1,153 first-time applicants was 39 percent, compared to 33 percent for the 3,286 applicants who taken the test before. 

As a general rule, the February exam has a lower pass rate than the July test because of the large number of applicants who retake the test after failing the previous year.

The State Bar is undertaking a series of studies into declining pass rates, its executive director said in a statement.

“I’d like to congratulate the applicants who passed the Bar Exam,” Elizabeth Rindskopf Parker said. “Regrettably the pass rate shows a continuing decline, a trend happening nationally. The State Bar is committed to a better understanding of the problem to determine how to address it.”

While the rate is among the lowest recorded in the last three decades, it does not set a record. The February 2002 exam drew a pass rate of 33.4 percent. 

Friday’s release also provided pass rates broken down by law school type.

Graduates of California law schools accredited by the American Bar Association passed at the rate of 45 percent for first-timers and 46 percent for repeaters. Graduates of ABA-accredited schools elsewhere had a pass rate of 39 percent for first-timers and 34 percent for repeaters.

Rates dropped to 18 percent for first-timers and 15 percent for repeaters among graduates of California law schools that are accredited by the committee but not by the ABA. Figures were also provided for graduates of unaccredited brick-and-mortar law schools, 25 percent for first-timers and two percent for repeaters; unaccredited correspondence schools, 26 percent for first-timers and 11 percent for repeaters; and unaccredited distance learning schools, 18 percent for first-timers and seven percent for repeaters.

Three hundred seventy five attorneys took the Attorneys’ Examination, 167 (44.5 percent) passed. Most were out-of-state attorneys, but 22 were disciplined attorneys who took the exam as a condition of reinstatement; three of them passed.

The Attorneys’ Examination consists of the essay and performance test sections of the General Bar Exam and is open to attorneys who have been admitted to the active practice of law and are in good standing for at least four years in another U.S. jurisdiction. More detailed statistics about examination results will be available in approximately three weeks, the State Bar said.


Copyright 2017, Metropolitan News Company