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Journal Article

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bar passage correlates, incoming indicators, standardized test scores, LSAT, undergraduate GPA, student engagement, law school performance, multilevel modeling


In this study, we examine the extent to which academic and student engagement factors explain law school grades and first-time bar exam performance. Applying fixed effects linear and logit modeling, our analysis leverages law student transcript data and responses to the Law School Survey of Student Engagement (LSSSE) among students from a diverse group of 20 law schools to estimate academic performance and odds of bar passage. Most notably, we find that GPA improvement during law school is associated with greater odds of passing the bar exam, particularly among students who struggle the most during the first semester. Furthermore, while we find that LSAT scores and undergraduate GPA are predictive (p < 0.05) of both law school performance and bar success (as in previous research), these effects are quite modest. Based on these findings, we propose and discuss several recommendations. These should be helpful to higher education scholars and practitioners, particularly law school deans, administrators, faculty, and academic support staff.


A poster presented at the 2021 American Educational Research Association Conference, with a snapshot of the findings, methods, and recommendations, can be viewed here.

Previous Versions

Jan 7 2022