Does Law School Curriculum Affect Bar Examination Passage? An Empirical Analysis of the Factors Which Were Related to Bar Examination Passage between 2001 and 2006 at a Midwestern Law School
A quantitative, empirical study was undertaken to determine whether there was a relationship between the number of bar examination subject matter courses taken in law school and bar examination passage. Previous studies reported relationships between LSAT scores, undergraduate grade point averages (UGPA), law school class rank and bar examination passage. Many law schools are advocating or mandating that students with low class rank take upper division, bar examination subject matter courses in an effort to improve the bar examination passage rate for those students. This study examined all 2001-2005 graduates of Saint Louis University School of Law (n = 827) who took the Missouri bar examination as their first bar examination between 2001 and 2006. The study included 429 male and 398 females. Independent sample t-tests and binary logistic regression analysis were conducted using LSAT scores, UGPA and the mean number of upper division, bar examination subject matter courses as the independent variables and bar examination passage as the dependent variable. A statistically significant relationship using binary logistic regression was found between LSAT scores, UGPA, mean number of bar examination subject matter courses and bar examination passage in the study. However, the relationship between bar examination subject matter courses taken and bar examination passage was isolated to subjects who ranked in the third quartile of their graduating class. [passed (mean = 9.0301, SD 1.51927), failed (mean = 8.17060, SD 1.87060); t (197) = 2.913, p = .002] Binary logistic regression [z = 4.755, p = .029]. No statistically significant relationships were found between bar examination subject matter courses taken and bar examination passage for graduates ranked in the first, second or fourth quartiles of their graduating class. The authors conclude that mandating that students take more bar examination subject matter courses will not improve bar examination passage rates for at risk law school students who rank in the lowest quartile of their graduating class.