Lowest bar pass rate for California in 67 years; other states see drop, too

Image from Shutterstock. Only 40.7 percent of the people who took the California July 2018 bar exam passed, according to a state bar news release .

Comparatively, the state’s overall pass rate for the July 2017 bar exam was 49.57 percent. For July 2016, the overall pass rate was 43.57 percent.

A total of 8,071 applicants completed the July 2018 California exam, according to the news release, which was posted Friday. There were 5,132 first-time test takers, and that pass rate for that group was 55 percent. Out of 2,939 repeat test takers, the pass rate was 16 percent.

The overall pass rate for California is the lowest it has been in 67 years, the Recorder reports.

In September , the National Conference of Bar Examiners announced that the average Multistate Bar Exam score for July 2018 was 139.5, which is the lowest it’s been since 1984. That led to predictions—which for the most part were accurate—of lower pass rates overall for the July 2018 exam.

Connecticut appears to have one of the biggest decreases, with a 55 percent pass rate for July 2018 , compared to 70 percent in July 2017. And the New Mexico bar passage rate for July 2018 was 70 percent, compared to 83 percent in July 2017 .

Besides California and Connecticut, other states with bar pass rates below 60 percent for July 2018 include Alaska (56 percent), Nevada (57 percent) and New Jersey (58.83 percent), as well as Arizona and Maryland , which both had bar passage rates of 59 percent.

New York, which like California is seen as a state with a more difficult bar exam, had a pass rate of 63 percent for July 2018 , compared to 68 percent in July 2017.

Admitting law students with below-average LSAT scores and undergraduate GPAs, along with accusations that people don’t study enough for the bar, are often listed as reasons why pass rates have dropped. What should be considered—but often is not—is that rote memorization is needed to pass a bar exam, and many new law graduates didn’t grow up with educations that focused on that skill, compared to […]

My journey from law student to City law firm innovation pioneer

A sneak peek at some of the insights Taylor Wessing innovation manager Laura Bygrave will share at Legal Cheek ’s ‘Creativity, innovation and the law’ event tomorrow evening Taylor Wessing innovation manager Laura Bygrave Identifying new opportunities to use technology, creating new products to challenge and improve the shape of client service delivery, and establishing internal efficiencies through use of artificial intelligence are just some of the things Taylor Wessing innovation manager Laura Bygrave is involved in. It’s an exciting line of work and one she didn’t think she’d end up in as a law grad almost seven years ago.

Bygrave studied law at the University of Leeds, but it was her desire not to specialise “too early” and instead do something with a strong business focus that led her away from the more traditional paths trodden by her wannabe lawyer peers.

Fresh from law school, bright-eyed Bygrave, who turned down a training contract offer, landed a business consultancy role at Hydrogen Group, a recruitment firm covering sectors including law and technology. She then moved to big four accountancy giant EY. Five years and a series of promotions later, Bygrave, who by now was a project manager in EY’s tech innovation team, was ready for a new challenge.

A challenge that came earlier this summer in the form of Taylor Wessing and a newly-created innovation manager role.

So what’s life like on the innovation frontline? Bygrave explains how she works with lawyers at every level of the firm, from partners right through to trainees, streamlining processes using technology in a bid to save both time and money. “Our open-door policy really helps generate ideas,” says Bygrave. Indeed, a core part of the firm’s innovation strategy is collaboration and blended teams of lawyers of all seniority coming together to discuss tech solutions.

Bygrave’s work doesn’t stop there. The innovation specialist also collaborates with Taylor Wessing’s clients (these range from start-ups right through to multinationals) to develop new products and help revolutionise the way it provides legal services. One such project is ‘TW:detect’. Though still in its piloting phase, the firm is working with cybersecurity developer […]

Law exam gets a new look: LSAT goes digital for 2019 exams

Abigail Ruths (senior-biobehavioral health) studies in the Biobehavioral Health Building on Wednesday, April 26, 2017. The Law School Application Test, also known as the LSAT, has been an integral part of the law school application process since 1948. Offered by the Law School Admissions Council (LSAC), the LSAT is a keystone of law school applications in the United States and Canada.

The test evaluates test takers on the reading comprehension, analytical reasoning and logical reasoning skills. In its 70 years of existence, the LSAT has always been a half day, standardized, printed test — until now.

Starting with the July 2019 LSAT administration, test takers will take the exam in a new, specially designed, digital format.

The digital LSAT exam will be offered at the same testing centers on a more frequent schedule of administration.

Wendy Margolis, chief executive communications and public affairs officer for LSAC, said the content of the exam will remain the same despite the change in format.

“In the Digital mode, the LSAT will continue to have the same four scored sections test takers are familiar with — one Analytical Reasoning, one Reading Comprehension and two Logical Reasoning — as well as the same distribution of question types within those four sections,” Margolis said via email. “Likewise, the difficulty of the test is not changing.”

Melissa Thirsk, LSAC Chief Marketing Officer, said no change in scores is anticipated as a result of this change.

“The move to the Digital LSAT represents the culmination of several years of work and, based on our research, we do not expect test takers’ scores to be affected by this transition,” Thirsk said via email. “We conducted two large-scale field tests in 2017 and candidates found the Digital LSAT easy to use.”

The digital format test will be administered on dedicated tablets provided by the LSAC and will provide test takers with many of the same tools typically available during traditional, paper-format testing. Students will have the ability to highlight portions of text, a question flagging option, a running timer and an automatic five minute warning. Students study in the Paterno Humanities Reading Room, also known as the […]

Campbell Law named to top law schools list; students ranked among most competitive

RALEIGH — The Princeton Review has once again included Campbell Law School in its prestigious list of the top 165 law schools in the country.

Even more notably, Campbell Law ranked No. 9 for student competitiveness for the third year in a row. The metric is defined by Princeton Review as “based on law student ratings of the degree of competitiveness among students at their law schools and hours outside of class spent studying.”

“We’re seeing a clear and compelling trend among the students at Campbell Law; they are hungry for opportunities and are ready to excel in their coursework,” says Campbell Law Dean J. Rich Leonard. “The investments we’re making in recruitment and academic programs are producing future lawyers who are going to be attractive job candidates, formidable legal professionals, and engaged community leaders.”

In addition to rigorous and innovative courses, Campbell Law offers students opportunities for hands-on engagement within the vibrant, fast-growing community of North Carolina’s capital city. For example, at the school’s Blanchard Community Law Clinic , students work on cases referred by local nonprofits, often involving life-changing issues such as expunctions, domestic violence protection orders, and landlord/tenant disputes, among others. Through the school’s

Restorative Justice Clinic students bring victims and offenders together to resolve conflict rather than prioritizing punishment. The students use circles to bring people — some in prison, some in high school — together to find a resolution that is healing.

Campbell Law’s strong showing in The Princeton Review’s top law schools and competitiveness lists comes on the heels of other accolades and superlatives including top ultimate bar passage rate , top law school for practical training , national advocacy titles , and a top ranking for trial advocacy programs .


Since its founding in 1976, Campbell Law has developed lawyers who possess moral conviction, social compassion, and professional competence, and who view the law as a calling to serve others. Among its accolades, the school has been recognized by the American Bar Association (ABA) as having the nation’s top Professionalism Program and by the American Academy of Trial Lawyers for having the nation’s […]

Cross-border legal studies yield value

LLB Programme Directors, Prof Kelvin Low and Ms Anna Lui Measured just by admission numbers, the bachelor of laws (LLB) programme taught at CityU may not be the largest in town, but all those involved believe that gives them a definite advantage.

“Our comparatively small size ensures that students within a cohort develop a close camaraderie that is difficult to achieve in larger groups,” says the director, professor Kelvin Low. “The same is true for faculty members who, in terms of teaching, are able to collaborate more easily and readily than they could in a larger law school. And our size allows us to provide greater personalised support for students in areas like career development, résumé writing and general counselling.”

The programme includes a balance of courses which are inherently more theoretical, and those which are more practical. Modules on legal research and writing, as well as mooting and a legal placement, are in the latter category. But even on courses centred on legal theory professors stress social, cultural, historical and economic contexts which have shaped the law into its present form.

In 2016, the school decided to introduce two new complementary core courses – one on public law, the other on private law in the mainland.

“We felt that a basic working knowledge of both was important to ensure our graduates are equipped for practice,” Low says. “The domestic market for legal services is limited, and many lawyers will have dealings involving mainland law, given the extent to which the economy is interconnected.”

This has the added benefit of giving students an insight into comparative law without requiring a specific extra course. That is because the mainland system is based on civil law, the world’s other major legal framework, as opposed to Hong Kong’s common law heritage.

“Seeing how different legal systems tackle the same sort of problems, particularly when the systems follow different traditions, lets students see other perspectives and better equips them to resolve complex cases.”

In parallel, the legal placement course is a chance to offer practical experience with Hong Kong law firms and in mainland courts. This year the scheme was […]

Columbia Law: Forget Big Law, think Big Heart

Columbia Law School has a great overall rep, but its real claim to fame is that it sends the most grads to Big Law than any law school in the nation. Nearly 70 percent of its Class of 2017 went to Big Law. The next closest school, The University of Chicago Law School, limped in at second, at 60 percent.

So when the New York-based school recently announced it was beefing up a certain specialty, it made news. That’s because it wasn’t anything Big Law related. Um, hardly.

It was public interest.

That’s the opposite of Big Law. That’s where lawyers don’t toil for $190,000 a year. They make, on average, about $50,000. They don’t help corporate America manage mergers and acquisitions or pull off mega-financial deals.

They help needy people ward off shady landlords or homeless vets get much-needed benefits.

It’s not as if Columbia doesn’t have a history of preparing lawyers for pubic service. It does. It’s even ranked among the nation’s top law schools for it. It’s just that many students are drawn to Columbia to land that golden ticket to Big Law. That $190,000? That’s just the first-year salary …

Yet the school is investing $4.5 million over the next three years to improve its public interest programming and accessibility.


Did three ghosts visit someone of importance at the law school … (Well, we are nearing Christmas.)New York is home to a number of law schools that have strong public interest programs. New York University School of Law and City University of New York School of Law have much heralded public interest offerings. Indeed, CUNY Law’s mission is to create public interest lawyers. It was ranked No. 1 for public interest by preLaw magazine last year.And now Columbia is stepping up its game.“Columbia Law School has a strong tradition of educating and mentoring graduates who will go on to serve the community, and these enhancements now position us as the premier destination for law students eager to pursue public interest and government careers,” said Dean Gillian Lester, in a news release. “Making this work possible and emphasizing its importance is core […]

Law School was tough and fun – Young female lawyers

Law School is usually portrayed as a tasking and expensive vocational programme for lawyers. But at the just concluded 2018 Call to Bar ceremony of the Nigerian Law School in Abuja, the Director General of the school, Prof. Hayatu Chiroma, announced that out of the 161 lawyers who graduated with first class, 131 are female.

Some of the young female new wigs shared their experiences on how they coped with the programme: combining learning and practice in the legal academic system with extra-curricular activities. Excerpts:

Sadiya Wada Abubakar, 25

It was an amazing experience because before you go to the Law School, it is believed to be a different place. People find it difficult to cope, but that is not the case. If you take it to be difficult, it will be, but if you take it to be easy, it will be easy, and it will come and pass.

If I am to advice others, I wouldn’t advise them that it is a hard place to be.

Favour Ime, 23

It was very challenging, especially because I didn’t do my law education in Nigeria. It made it difficult for me to get acquainted with Nigerian laws. But with time, I was able to grasp what I was being taught.

I enjoyed myself because I met a lot of people. It was an intensive experience but by God’s Grace, I was involved in extracurricular activities. I was the vice president of the Christian Lawyers Fellowship of Nigeria (CLASFON).

Joana Kolo-Manma, 21 It was a very good experience, although quite challenging. You can imagine having to do a curriculum that ought to be for three years in just 10 months. That is so much work. And I also got to learn so much work through the internship programme where we went to law firms. My experience generally was a very good one.I really wasn’t so social because I really wanted to make a first class; I eventually got a 2.1 For the young ones, I advise that if they want to go to Law School, they should start early. Law School is not […]

Professor’s New Book Tackles ‘Problems and Puzzles’ in Criminal Law

UVA legal philosopher Kimberly Kessler Ferzan, above, and her co-author, Larry Alexander of the University of San Diego School of Law, explore the philosophical underpinnings of retributive justice in their second book together. (Photo by Tom Cogill) ne of the central ideas in criminal law is that people should be punished because they deserve it, and only as much as they deserve. This view – retributivism – contends that it is wrong to punish people who are innocent and to inflict greater punishment than is proportionate to the offense.

Courts and commentators must then still determine what a “just” punishment may be.

Professor Kimberly Kessler Ferzan, a legal philosopher at the University of Virginia School of Law, has co-written a new book that explores a series of quandaries that have arisen from her scholarship concerning retribution in criminal law.

“Reflections on Crime and Culpability: Problems and Puzzles,” which Ferzan co-wrote with professor Larry Alexander of the University of San Diego School of Law, was released last week from Cambridge University Press.

The book builds on the pair’s 2009 book, “Crime and Culpability: A Theory of Criminal Law,” which asked what a retributivist criminal law should look like. They argued, among other things, that attempted crimes are as culpable as completed crimes and that negligence is not culpable and should not be within the sphere of criminal law.

“Attempts should be punished the same as completed crimes,” Ferzan said. “So it doesn’t matter if I shoot at you and hit you. It doesn’t matter if I shoot at you and miss. I should be punished the same amount. Why would you let luck determine what someone’s punishment is?

“And we also argue, though, that attempts shouldn’t be punished until you are actually committing an act that is sort of a ‘last act.’ That is, when you’ve unleashed the risk of a harm that you can no longer completely control. So if I’m coming at you with a knife, but I can change my mind, then that shouldn’t count as having attempted to kill you yet, though I may be guilty of other offenses, such as threatening […]

UChicago Undergrad and Law School Student Win Marshall Scholarships

Marshall Scholars Sarah Nakasone (left) and Christopher Crum Two University of Chicago students are among this year’s Marshall Scholarship recipients: Sarah Nakasone, a College fourth-year, and second-year Law School student Christopher Crum. Both will start graduate degrees in the U.K. this fall.

The prestigious Marshall Scholarship selects up to 50 students from across the U.S. to pursue a graduate degree in any field. The program fully covers tuition, cost of living, and miscellaneous expenses like travel and research grants.

Nakasone, a global studies major, told UChicago News that she hopes to work in disease control and prevention, focusing on ways to foster greater community engagement in addressing HIV. Inspired by her time researching HIV as an undergraduate, she will be working toward an S.M. degree in the control of infectious diseases from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and a Ph.D. in epidemiology and population health from University College London.

Crum will pursue a master’s in the social science of the internet at the Oxford Internet Institute. He views issues with cybersecurity and spread of fake news as particularly pressing. “If fake news could be removed from public discourse and elections could be electronically safeguarded, it would go a long way towards restoring public faith in the democratic systems in the U.S.,” Crum wrote in his Marshall application.

With the addition of Nakasone and Crum, a total of 27 individuals associated with UChicago have now won the Marshall Scholarship since 1986.

All About Law – advice and help for those interested in UK law careers

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