The bar exam results for Florida are in and they are not good

The February bar exam scores usually possess the lowest scores. Most February test takers are usually second-timers and probably failed for a reason the first time around. However, the results from these Florida law schools were from first-time test takers meaning it does not factor in people who have failed before.

The results are as follows:

Florida Coastal School of Law (Jacksonville, FL): 32.7% pass

Barry University School of Law (Orlando, FL): 35.9% pass

St. Thomas University (Miami Gardens, FL): 42.3% pass

Stetson University School of Law (Gulfport, FL): 53.3% pass

University of Florida (Gainesville, FL): 56.3% pass

University of Miami (Coral Gables, FL): 53.1% pass

Ave Maria School of Law (Naples, FL): 52.9% pass

Nova Southeastern University (Fort Lauderdale, FL): 75% pass

Florida State University (Tallahassee, FL): 71.4% pass

Florida International University (Miami, FL): 84.6% pass

Both Florida Coastal and Barry University boasted in the fact that they had the most students sitting for the bar exam, which usually is not a good sign. Florida Coastal is notorious for its unreasonable investment and low employment score (29%).

Even though the University of Florida and the University of Miami had the least number of test-takers, the results are still very surprising. Only about half managed to pass. UF has an employment score of 68% and a US News Rank of 47. UM has an employment score of 67% with a US News Rank of 63.

Nova Southeastern and Florida State University continue to well with about 3/4 of their test takers have passing marks. FSU has an employment score of about 68% and has a US News Rank of 45. Florida International University did the best, with a 84.6% pass rate.

Article via Above the Law, April 11, 2016

Photo: Last Undergraduate Class via Stephen Grebinski [Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs]


The law school brain drain and bar pass rates

For the past few years, alarmingly low bar pass rates have made headlines. In July 2014, Erica Moeser, president of the National Conference of Bar Examiners declared that the current bar exam test takers are “less able” than their predecessors. Law schools deans argued that this was a harsh categorization of their graduates. However, when the July 2015 bar exam results came in, Moeser’s statement was proven correct. Since the law school crisis began, applicants with lower qualifications who were predicted to encounter difficulty passing the bar exam were admitted in packs.

The great law school brain drain is evident but let’s take a closer look on what caused this great phenomenon. Jerry Organ, professor of the University of St. Thomas School of Law in Minneapolis has been tracking LSAT profiles of law school students for years. His analysis shows that LSAT scores correlate with scores on the bar exam. Below is a graph that displays categories of LSAT scores and the percentage of those with that score matriculated into Law school.

LSAT-Matriculant-Score-Changes-2010-2015-600x368

While the percentage for the students that scored between a 150-159 remained relatively stable, the 160+ category slowly declined and the students that scored below a 150 continue to increase every year. This is what happens when law schools need money and accept virtually anyone. Organ noted that “the top is eroding and the bottom is growing” and predicts the brain drain will have lasting effects: “Given that the LSAT profiles of matriculants and of law schools for fall 2013, fall 2014 and fall 2015 are less robust than those for fall 2011 and fall 2012 (the classes that graduated in 2014 and 2015, respectively), one can anticipate that the declines in median MBE scaled scores and corresponding bar passage rates in 2014 and 2015 will continue in July 2016, 2017 and 2018 absent increases in attrition, significant improvement in academic support programs at law schools, or improved bar preparation efforts on the part of graduates.”

Article via Above the Law, January 20, 2016

Photo: Studying via Francois de Halleux [Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs]