Bar exam

12 New York Law Schools See Decrease in Bar Pass Rates

For first-time test takers in July 2018, the New York State Bar pass rate decreased at 12 of 15 New York law schools compared to July 2017. The decreases ranged from a minor 1.6 percentage points at Cornell to 16.2 percentage points at Touro. Nine of the programs’ pass rates fell below the statewide rate of 83 percent, which also decreased by three points from 2017. Graduates from just three New York law schools, NYU, Columbia, and Albany, increased their pass rate.

When asked about the pass rates by representatives from the New York Law Journal, law school deans spoke about the programs they are implementing to support students taking the bar, as well as interventions they’ve put in place for students perceived to be at-risk for failure.

"The faculty and I have been implementing extensive reforms involving changes in the classroom, curriculum and culture of the school. We expect these changes to be reflected favorably in future results. Some of the changes are still being implemented. We intend to accelerate their implementation effective immediately. We will be re-examining in minutest detail everything we do, in and outside of the classroom, to assure that the continued implementation of reforms, from evidence-based teaching to curricular reform, is successful." Harry Ballan, dean of Touro College Jacob D. Fuchsberg Law Center

“As dean, my leadership approach is to think in terms of a multi-year strategic plan, and one of my very highest priorities remains to increase and maintain the bar passage rate. We have also had many successes across all areas of the law school in just these last two years — job placement, building enhancements, our medical-legal partnership and veterans clinic—and I believe that we have a comprehensive Raising the Bar program and an extensive plan in place for future bar successes,” Gail Prudenti, dean of the Maurice A. Deane School of Law at Hofstra University

 "I won’t be satisfied with Cornell’s performance until we achieve a 100% pass rate.  And we have taken steps to provide academic support to law students we perceive to be at risk for failing the bar." Eduardo M. Peñalver, dean, Cornell Law School. 

Take-aways for Current and Prospective Law School Students--

For current students:

  • Speak with recent graduates of your law school to find out how prepared they felt taking the bar exam. Ask how they would have changed their preparation method and if they have recommendations to share.

  • When interviewing with firms, find out how they support associates who are taking the bar. Also, take advantage of your summer position to speak with new full-time hires who are preparing for the bar to learn from their experiences.

  • Familiarize yourself with programs your school offers and seek outside programming, if necessary, to ensure you will be prepared. The American Bar Association bar prep page includes resources and discounts for bar prep courses.

For prospective students:

  • During the school-selection process, be sure to consider the bar pass rate. Past bar pass rates are available from the Internet Legal Research Group and are included as a small component in the U.S. News and World Report Law School Rankings.

  • When you visit or communicate with program representatives, ask how they currently assist third year students and graduates in preparing for the exam and what new initiatives they may be implementing.