Bar Examinations and High-Stakes Assessments

Cool Data on a Hot Issue: Empirical Evidence that a Law School Bar Support Program Enhances Bar Performance

Linda Jellum, Mercer University, George School of Law
Emmeline Paulette Reeves, University of Richmond School of Law

Abstract

The bar exam is a hot and controversial topic for academics, lawyers, bar examiners, graduates, and students. Criticism of the exam abounds. Does the bar exam correctly decide who should be admitted to practice law? Does the bar exam unfairly exclude minorities from the profession? Regardless of the accuracy of these criticisms, the bar exam is a reality that law schools and their graduates must face.

Many law schools are now offer programs specifically designed to improve their graduates' performance on the bar exam. But none has engaged in a statistically verifiable analysis of whether the programs materially affect a student's chance of passing the bar on a first attempt. This article fills the gap. It presents statistical analyses supporting the conclusion that a bar support program can significantly improve bar passage rates.