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Author Topic: California to tighten bar admission rules?  (Read 4970 times)

Cher1300

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Re: California to tighten bar admission rules?
« Reply #10 on: April 28, 2013, 01:03:05 PM »
Statistics on the last bar exam in Jun 2012 state the passage rate percentage for CA Accredited was 31% for first time takers, repeaters 10% and all takers 19%.  For all takers in the unaccredited category - 15%, not much difference between CA Accredited and the Unaccredited and the repeaters for unaccredited was 12% HIGHER than the accredited 10%.  Feb 2012 - first time takers - same percentage 33% in both categories.  I don't know seems to me the CA ABA pass rate not anything to boast about either at 68% and 53% on the same respective tests.  Tightening standards will mean what? No more distance learning or correspondence schools?  We shall see.

If you look at other years, the numbers do fluctuate quite a bit. 

I've been doing a lot of research into this because I am seriously considering transferring to a CBE.  The cost of ABA is just getting to be ridiculous even for those with some scholarships.  The massive amount of debt and the fact that there are no more subsidized loans from the government is making CBE appear to be a better choice.  However, it may be wise for the CBE schools to require a bit stricter admissions requirement.  When I went to visit the school I'm interested in, only one of the six prospective students had a bachelor's degree and none of them had taken the LSAT yet.  Some had the required 60 hours of college, but for the most part, they hadn't fully committed to going to law school, which was the complete opposite of the prospective students at the ABA open houses I attended.  Most had already applied with a decent LSAT score and, of course, a bachelor's degree.  And while someone should certainly do their research before making the commitment to go to law school, it just seemed odd that none of them had even attempted the LSAT before visiting the school. 

As far as online school bar pass rates being similar to CBE, the online schools weed out students who may not pass the bar because of the FYLSE.  http://admissions.calbar.ca.gov/Portals/4/documents/fyx/FylsxStatsOct2011.pdf 
Since only about 20% of online students pass the First Year Exam, the remaining number of students moving on to 2L is much smaller.  Cal bar students are not required to take the FYLSE, which could explain the lower bar pass rates. 

What concerns me the most is that the number of repeaters taking the bar exam is significantly higher than the first-time takers for both CBE and online schools compared to ABA, which has a significantly lower number of repeaters.   Trinity law school had 55 repeaters compared to 19 first timers, and UWLA had 60 repeaters compared to 10 first timers.  Abraham Lincoln and Concord had similar numbers.

http://admissions.calbar.ca.gov/Portals/4/documents/gbx/JULY2012STATS.122112_R.pdf

So even though some of the ABA school's bar pass rates may not seem impressive, they are doing something right.  The bigger question is, is it worth the money you save if you end up having to take the bar three or four times?  Or is passing the bar largely based upon the individual?  I would love to hear feedback from those of you who have taken the bar exam.   

livinglegend

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Re: California to tighten bar admission rules?
« Reply #11 on: April 30, 2013, 01:32:06 AM »
The bar exam is insane particularly the California Bar, which I did take and pass. I personally do think it is up to the individual as there are graduates from Harvard who never pass and graduates from CBE schools that do. It really comes down to your focus, ability to handle pressure, and a little bit of luck.

On the California Bar you are required to study 14 subjects in extreme depth, but half the stuff you study is not not on the test. There are 6 essay questions, 200 multiple choice questions, and 2 practical essay tests, which each test different skills.

I think if you received a 180 your ability to handle pressure and thrive on a standardized test have been displayed and that is why Harvard grads typically pass in my opinion. Someone who choked on the LSAT is likely not a good test taker and the bar is one big standardized test, but it is different from the LSAT.

 The education you receive at a CBE school or an ABA school is the same I would imagine. Your first year would consist of Torts, Criminal Law, Civ pro etc and you would read Supreme Court cases. Perhaps CBE schools have a different setup, but I do not imagine they would.

One disadvantage to CBE schools is that I believe most are part-time and part-time law study is not what you need for the bar exam. It may lead you into a false sense of security and having only 3 exams spread out over a few days in law school is a cakewalk compared to what you are required to do on the bar.

Maintain FL 350

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Re: California to tighten bar admission rules?
« Reply #12 on: May 01, 2013, 12:17:54 PM »
One disadvantage to CBE schools is that I believe most are part-time and part-time law study is not what you need for the bar exam. It may lead you into a false sense of security and having only 3 exams spread out over a few days in law school is a cakewalk compared to what you are required to do on the bar.

True, however if you look at first time pass rates for ABA approved part time programs they're roughly equivalent to the full time pass rates. No significant difference. I think this has to do with the greater admissions selectivity at ABA schools. Even lower tier ABA schools have far stricter admissions criteria than CBE or (especially) online schools.

I absolutely agree with Livinglegend that the individual's personal dedication and drive (combined with luck) are the biggest factors, regardless of where they went to school. If you graduate from Stanford but don't bother to hunker down and study for a few months, you will be included in that 9% of Stanford grads who fail.

However, if the CBE schools are accepting numerous students without strong academic credentials, then it shpuldn't be too surprising that the pass rates are comparartively low. Law school and and the bar exam are very demanding, and it seems that many students are admitted to online and CBE schools who simply do not possess the academic background to succeed.

It's also important to point out that just like ABA schools, some CBE programs have better reputations and pass rates than others. Some of the CBE schools are geographically isolated, and I suspect they are able to draw a better applicant pool as result of being the only game in town (no ABA school to compete with). Such schools produce a large percentage of the local bar and bench, and their grads can effectively compete with ABA grads. In large metro areas with numerous law schools, of course it's much tougher.

Cher1300

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Re: California to tighten bar admission rules?
« Reply #13 on: May 02, 2013, 11:25:01 AM »
Thank you both for your input!  I had figured that individual drive may have a bit more to do with passing the bar.  It makes sense that a lower admissions criteria would have a direct correlation to bar pass rates.  If one doesn't have the drive to hunker down and study for the LSAT, then they are less likely to pass the bar exam.  I am leaning more and more towards CBE for the fall.  Since I've already completed two years at an ABA, I don't think the quality of education will be any different, but my debt will be far less.   ;D

Maintain FL 350

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Re: California to tighten bar admission rules?
« Reply #14 on: May 03, 2013, 06:45:24 PM »
Cher1300:

If you do transfer to a CBE law school I hope you keep us updated with your observations. You'd have a unique perspective, and it would be interesting to hear how you compare the ABA/CBE programs.

For many jobs, I really wonder if a lower tier ABA degree is worth very much more than a CBE degree. If your interest is solo practice or small Main Street firms, saving money and gaining practical experience may be the best bet.

Good luck with whatever path you choose!

livinglegend

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Re: California to tighten bar admission rules?
« Reply #15 on: May 06, 2013, 07:56:24 PM »
I think the ABA school has definite benefiets over a CBE school for job prospects, getting licensed, etc, but I have known successful CBE grads, but the grind from an ABA school is tough enough if your looking for a job. If you want to be a solo then CBE is the better way to go since all you need is a law license.

As for Maintain's statement about the bar I agree many of the CBE schools seem to prey on people who were not qualified to get into ABA schools, but there are many CBE schools that are great options. I think CBE schools should require some minimum LSAT score for consumer protection purposes. I think to many people are drawn by being attorney, but if you can't get at least a 150 on the LSAT that is probably an indicator you are not a great standardized test-taker and the bar is about 100x times harder and more pressure than the LSAT.

As for Cher if you were admitted to an ABA school and have been there a few years you have already given so much money it is probably better to stay to have an ABA degree. You will probably only save 30,000 in tuition or so and there will be some doors closed without an ABA degree. If you were a 0L and it was going to be $200,000 in savings it might be different, but you have gone so far down the path you might as well finish it off.

Another issue with CBE schools is I believe (without about 51% certainty so take it with a grain of salt)  Barbri does not offer their services to non-aba students, but I am sure CA Law Dean will interject if that is incorrect. BarBri or Kaplan is really what prepare you for the bar law school builds the foundation, but those courses get you the license. If those courses are available from a CBE school and you do what they say you are likely to get that law license whether from a CBE or ABA school.

Duncanjp

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Re: California to tighten bar admission rules?
« Reply #16 on: May 08, 2013, 12:23:17 AM »
Barbri, Kaplan, Themis and Cal Bar Review all set up booths at my CBE school regularly.

Cher1300

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Re: California to tighten bar admission rules?
« Reply #17 on: May 10, 2013, 06:51:48 PM »
Livinglegend, I was able to pay for half of the tuition at my ABA.  I go part-time evening, work full-time and I am finishing up my second year.  Right now my debt is pretty good, but Obama has cut all subsidized loans for graduate students this year.  Also, the tuition goes up every year and I want to quit my job at some point to focus on internships.  I've met with the legal department of my current employer about an intership this summer, and do not want to be working full-time, which is where the expense will add up.  Since I've spent all I had saved for school, I will have to rely mainly on loans over the next two years.

The minimum LSAT score required for the CBE's in my area is 145 for one and 143 for the other.  I believe Cooley is also 143, but it also appears Cooley gets more criticism than online schools.   

If the job that is waiting for me when I graduate doesn't work out, I plan on being a solo practitioner anyway unless I get lucky elsewhere.  I already have a good network of attorneys because of where I work and spoke with a judge who ironically assumed I was at a CBA - maybe because I work fulltime?  The discussion of the high cost of tuition with ABA schools is ongoing in my area.

I am a bit worried that the quality of education may not be as rigorous since bar pass rates don't lie.  And, as maintain said, even my lower tier school criteria for admissions is higher than CBE.  However, it also true that if you don't hunker down and study you won't pass no matter which school you attend.  Anyway, I'm still weighing the pros and cons.  I'm just someone who really hates having debt unless it's a mortgage.  I'm going to ask some of the other attorneys their opinions of CBE's before making my final decision.   Thanks for the input.

CA Law Dean

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Re: California to tighten bar admission rules?
« Reply #18 on: May 29, 2013, 12:08:19 PM »
Lots of really good points included in this thread discussion. I wasn't watching the distance education discussion, so I missed the earlier points (sorry), but if I might jump in here, I can probably add some interesting context.

Another issue with CBE schools is I believe (without about 51% certainty so take it with a grain of salt)  Barbri does not offer their services to non-aba students, but I am sure CA Law Dean will interject if that is incorrect. BarBri or Kaplan is really what prepare you for the bar law school builds the foundation, but those courses get you the license. If those courses are available from a CBE school and you do what they say you are likely to get that law license whether from a CBE or ABA school.

Fortunately this is not true. BarBri has a long history of working just as hard with the CBE schools as with the ABA schools. For a period of about ten years, BarPassers was considered a better fit for CBE students, so most of the CBE schools, including Monterey College of Law (MCL - where I serve as dean) offered that program. However, BarPassers is now also owned by Kaplan and has been put on a back burner.

Bar Bri has worked collaboratively with MCL to develop a pilot program that we have designed specifically for our CBE, non-traditional, working students. We are in the fourth year of the program and believe that the results speak for themselves. Without changing our admissions policies or increasing attrition (the two quickest ways to manipulate bar pass rates), MCL has improved our cumulative bar pass rates from 38% in 2005 to 68% in 2011. We are slightly lower after the 2012 results (66%), but that should also increase somewhat as that class gets the opportunity to get a second (and third) chance at the exam.

What has changed? First, we went from about 30% participation in post-graduation bar review programs . . . to 100%. We accomplished this by including the cost of BarBri in the law school tuition. No one has to come up with $4,200+ as a post-graduation "surprise". We extended the bar prep period from 11 weeks to the entire Spring Semester, facilitated by our own Asst. Dean for Academic Support. This provides time for students to complete the entire review program AND participate in multiple full-day (Saturday) practice exams, some graded by BarBri and some graded by local lawyers who have been through the state bar calibration (grading) training. Just so that you don't think MCL is only about bar preparation, MCL also has a policy that students must repeat bar-tested subjects if they get sub-standard grades (usually 65/66 or below). Note that there is no additional tuition charge for the repeated courses and achieving a higher grade replaces the lower grade for the purpose of cumulative law school GPA.

All in all - there are simply no short-cuts . . . for the law school or the law students. It requires a LOT of supplemental work to be successful on the (irrationally difficult) California Bar Exam. However, our results show that with this extra work (repeated classes, tutoring, and comprehensive bar prep), MCL students have successfully overcome low LSAT predictors, learning disabilities, ESL, and work challenges (as an evening program, virtually all of our students work during the day) . . . and can be successful in law school and on the bar exam.

I think CBE schools should require some minimum LSAT score for consumer protection purposes. I think to many people are drawn by being attorney, but if you can't get at least a 150 on the LSAT that is probably an indicator you are not a great standardized test-taker and the bar is about 100x times harder and more pressure than the LSAT.

I also wondered about the relationship between the LSAT and bar exam success. MCL conducted a statistical analysis on the past 6 years of students and I was very surprised how poor the LSAT was as a predictor of law school OR bar exam success. However, remember that our non-traditional student population includes adult, working, ESL students, and I believe a disproportionate number of undiagnosed adult learning disabilities. None of these potential students do particularly well on the LSAT. However, the data unequivocally proved that law school cumulative GPA is the direct predictor of bar exam success, regardless of these other factors. So I would (and have publicly testified before state bar committees), that a minimum LSAT cannot be justified in the CBE setting. Our reports were an influential part of the data considered by the Committee of Bar Examiners before they rejected a proposal to set minimum LSAT admission standards for CBE law schools.

As for Cher if you were admitted to an ABA school and have been there a few years you have already given so much money it is probably better to stay to have an ABA degree. You will probably only save 30,000 in tuition or so and there will be some doors closed without an ABA degree. If you were a 0L and it was going to be $200,000 in savings it might be different, but you have gone so far down the path you might as well finish it off.

This is good advice for consideration . . . however, if there are factors beyond the financial, such as better academic support, preference for small classes, better job connections through the network of CBE adjunct faculty . . . it might prove beneficial to transfer. IMPORTANT NOTE, there is a limit to the number of transfer units that a school can/will accept. It is irrelevant whether it is from a CBE to ABA or a ABA to CBE. For example, MCL requires 86 units for graduation and we will only accept 43 transfer units . . . so check on the rules where you are considering so you don't inadvertently end up losing ground on your completed units.
Monterey College of Law
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Cher1300

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Re: California to tighten bar admission rules?
« Reply #19 on: June 17, 2013, 11:38:36 AM »
Well, after much consideration, I've decided to stay at my ABA.  Livinglegend was correct about the numbers.  Once I crunched them there was only about a 30k difference.  Also, I would have had to take one class over again because my grade was not so great which would have been another expense.  This in addition to the fact that I've established some great working/study relationships at my school and would like to keep those.  Anyway, just wanted to update you!