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One Law School Drags Down Statewide Bar Pass Rate

There is a death spiral in the cosmos, when a black hole consumes a nearby star.

The black hole literally sucks the light out of existence. Law school can be like that, especially after three years and your eyes have gone dim from late-night reading.

But one law school is being blamed for bringing down an entire state. Charleston Law School tanked the South Carolina bar exam, pulling down the statewide pass rate to an increasingly dark place.

"Thoroughly Disappointing"

South Carolina has two law schools. Charlelston, a private school, had a pass rate of about 44 percent; the University of South Carolina School of Law had a 76 percent pass rate.

Above the Law is not letting Charleston get away with it. In a tale of two law schools, writer Kathryn Rubino says Charleston's performance is "thoroughly disappointing all the way around."

"The poor performance of Charleston students also pulled down the South Carolina passage rate overall," she wrote. "The state overall passage was 68.29 percent, with the other law school in state -- University of South Carolina Law School -- posting a 76.22 percent rate (test takers attending other schools passed at a rate of 73.29 percent)."

Charleston has traditionally scored lower than South Carolina but this year was the worst. Charleston Dean Andy Abrams said a change in the bar exam was the problem.

"Very Different"

For the first time, South Carolina administered the Uniform Bar Examination. Used in 26 states and Washington, D.C., the standardized test includes multiple choice, an essay, and performance sections.

"It's not a bad skill set to test; it's just very different from the way bar exams have been in the past," Abrams told the Post and Courier.

It has been tough for law schools around the country in recent years, as lower admissions standards have led to lower bar pass rates. Charleston was not the worst this year.

Mississippi law school graduates had the worst scores in 2017. The bar pass rate dropped to 36 percent this year.

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