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SEEKING SOLUTIONS TO THE BAR PASSAGE DECLINE Prepared by: Lorenzo A. Trujillo Assistant Dean University of Colorado School of Law.

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Presentation on theme: "SEEKING SOLUTIONS TO THE BAR PASSAGE DECLINE Prepared by: Lorenzo A. Trujillo Assistant Dean University of Colorado School of Law."— Presentation transcript:

1 SEEKING SOLUTIONS TO THE BAR PASSAGE DECLINE Prepared by: Lorenzo A. Trujillo Assistant Dean University of Colorado School of Law

2 University of Colorado School of Law Bar Passage Rate by Annual Percent (*Data from Colorado Board of Bar Examiners)

3 State of Colorado Bar Passage Rate by Annual Percent *Data from National Conference of Bar Examiners (www.ncbex.org/stats.htm) and the Colorado Board of Bar Examiners

4 National Statistics Bar Passage Rate by Annual Percent *Data from National Conference of Bar Examiners (www.ncbex.org/stats.htm)

5 Comparative Chart Bar Passage Rate by Annual Percent

6 July 2004 Data  Analysis of 2004 data show that: LSAT does not directly correlate with bar passage Undergraduate GPA does not directly correlate with bar passage Gender or ethnic status does not directly correlate with bar passage The key factor to bar passage is class rank and GPA in law school.

7 Board of Bar Examiners  Board of Bar Examiners Non-passing students are writing before engaging in analysis of the question Non-passing students demonstrating poor organization skills Non-passing students are failing in legal analysis and responding with an argument leading to a conclusion

8 Judicial Feedback  Judicial Feedback CU Law students’ writings are:  Good not great  Formula writing  Technical not fluid  Lack fluid persuasion  Lacking priority and organization  Lacking demonstration of ability to handle difficult legal problems

9 Strategies, Tactics & Suggestions to Improve the Bar Passage Rate Excerpted from Law Schools Can Solve the “Bar Pass Problem” – “Do the Work!”, 40 Cal. W.L.Rev. 321, 343  Setting the Tone: The Deans and Faculty should set the tone of professionalism. The importance of passing the bar should be stressed to students from first year orientation to a third year meeting that reinforces what students must do to succeed on the bar exam. Professors should reinforce the message at the beginning of each semester.

10 Strategies, Tactics & Suggestions to Improve the Bar Passage Rate  Learning Styles: Recognize and support students who learn differently.  Visual Learners  Aural Learners  Encourage to tape-record lectures  Kinesthetic Learners  Discourage from using laptops Students should be given the opportunity to determine their learning style through handouts and tests during orientation.

11 Strategies, Tactics & Suggestions to Improve the Bar Passage Rate  Teach and Learn the Law Students must learn the law and be able to analyze and write about it. Faculty should understand the bar methodology. Faculty are encouraged to participate in seminars with bar examiners or bar exam graders.

12 Strategies, Tactics & Suggestions to Improve the Bar Passage Rate  Encourage Students to Take “Bar Courses” Students who do poorly in these courses will struggle with the bar. Encourage weaker students to take a reduced load to master the material in “bar courses.”  “It is better that a student spend an extra semester or summer to master the bar material than graduate in six semesters and flunk the bar.” 40 Cal. W.L.Rev. 321, 343

13 Strategies, Tactics & Suggestions to Improve the Bar Passage Rate  Exams Create relevant essay exams rather than multiple choice question exams.  If still compelled to use multiple choice format, select previously created MBE questions. Phase out take-home and open-book exams  These types of exams do not replicate the bar exam. Eliminate Pass/Fail Grades

14 Strategies, Tactics & Suggestions to Improve the Bar Passage Rate  Academic Assistance Identify students with poorly developed study habits. Increased support for tutoring program.

15 Strategies, Tactics & Suggestions to Improve the Bar Passage Rate  Increased Emphasis on Legal Writing Improve essay exam writing. Teach students how to deconstruct essay questions and hone their writing skills. Increase writing opportunities.  Legal Writing Program Changes Study skills Note taking techniques Exam Writing

16 Strategies, Tactics & Suggestions to Improve the Bar Passage Rate  The Grade Inflation Part of the Puzzle Inflated grades do not give an accurate measurement of performance. Marginal students do not receive a fair warning that they are in trouble.  “[They] believe on the basis of their law school grades that they have done above average / very good work and are not in danger of failing the bar.” 40 Cal. W.L.Rev. 321, 334

17 Strategies, Tactics & Suggestions to Improve the Bar Passage Rate  Bar Preparation Studying for the bar is a full-time job. Advise students early on to get their financial and personal lives in order before the bar.

18 Strategies, Tactics & Suggestions to Improve the Bar Passage Rate  Continued Counseling Continue to counsel graduates who have failed the bar on how to succeed. Get re-takers to change their approach.

19 Strategies, Tactics & Suggestions to Improve the Bar Passage Rate  Pinpointing At Risk Students With limited resources it is crucial to concentrate on at risk individuals. Maintain detailed statistics. Determine the correlation between LSAT scores, undergraduate GPA, and law school performance with bar passage.

20 Strategies, Tactics & Suggestions to Improve the Bar Passage Rate  Dismiss Poorer Students It is kinder to dismiss students from law school after one semester... Than to re-admit students who have no chance of passing the bar.” 40 Cal. W.L.Rev. 321, 347

21 Strategies, Tactics & Suggestions to Improve the Bar Passage Rate  Strong Academic Support Offices An academic support office can offer:  Testing  Counseling  Tutoring  Other resources to help at risk students

22 Strategies, Tactics & Suggestions to Improve the Bar Passage Rate  Non-credit Bar Prep Courses Law school sponsored free bar preparation course. Bar preparation courses that run through the third year.

23 Strategies, Tactics & Suggestions to Improve the Bar Passage Rate  Grade on a Curve Decreases grade inflation. Encourages fairness between different sections.

24 Strategies, Tactics & Suggestions to Improve the Bar Passage Rate  Create More Small Sections Students thrive in small sections. Create smaller sections in first year courses.  Focus the Curriculum Reduce course offerings to ensure that students are grasping the basics.

25 Strategies, Tactics & Suggestions to Improve the Bar Passage Rate  Enforce Attendance Policies Classroom learning is critical to the mastery of law. Law school Deans certify to bar examiners that their students have regular attendance.

26 Conclusion Need of a Committee to study Data and Literature, provide an Analysis, and Propose a Plan of Action

27 References  Day, Christian, "Law Schools Can Solve the Bar Pass Problem - Do the Work," Excerpted from California Western Law Review, Spring,  Thomas, David, "Predicting Law School Academic Performance From LSAT Scores and Undergraduate Grade Point Average: A Comprehensive Study," 35 Ariz. St. L.J  Kaufman, Eileen, "Chicago Conference Highlights Need to Rethink the Bar Exam Process," SALT Equalizer (December, 2004)  Darrow-Kleinhaus, Suzanne, "A Response to the Society of American Law Teachers Statement on the Bar Exam," Journal of Legal Education, Vol. 54, Number 3 (September 2004)  Kirgis, Paul, "Race, Rankings, and the Part-Time Free Pass," Journal of Legal Education, Vol. 54, Number 3 (September 2004)  Ruby K. Payne, "A Framework for Understanding Poverty" 1998, RFT Publishing.  Ippolito, Richard, "Performance in Law School: What Matters in the End?" Journal of Legal Education, Vol. 54, Number 3 (September 2004)


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