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It's a never-ending struggle to protect one of the most idealistic, gullible, and greedy demographics: prospective law students. In order to provide better information for these ne'er-do-wells, the ABA is requiring accredited law schools to submit a new, separate, stand alone questionnaire regarding the school's bar passage rate.
And though law schools have been reporting bar passage rates for many years now, the new questionnaire, approved this past June, promises to provide more accurate information, which could help prospective law students decide whether or not to attend a particular school.
What's New Bar Questionnaire?
The new bar passage questionnaire seeks all the same information that law schools used to be required to provide to the ABA in their annual surveys, due in October, but, naturally, it goes a little bit deeper. Before, schools were only required to report bar passage rates for test takers in the school's home state. However, the new questionnaire requires schools to make their best efforts to report on out-of-state test takers. Also, the survey results are now due in March, rather than October, which will allow prospective students to get the most current data on a school's bar passage rate.
Additionally, before, law schools were not required to report "ultimate" bar passage rates (the rate at which students pass the bar exam in any jurisdiction within two years after graduation), unless their passage rate for first time takers was within 15% of the state's first time pass rate for the last three out of five years.
Questioning the Questionnaire
For some law schools, completing the questionnaire may be a rather burdensome task. The worse a school's students perform, the more work it will have to do to complete the reporting. Particularly for schools that don't see many graduates stay in the school's home state, the workload for responding may be even more time consuming as the ABA requires every school to put forth their "best effort" to locate and report on the out-of-staters.
Despite what the schools may think, the ABA is clearly looking out for the prospective students that rely on this information to make informed decisions. It noted that most law schools require admissions deposits in April, so requiring these surveys be returned in March will provide just enough time for students to second guess their choice of school.