Friday, October 12, 2007

Courts of passage

Passing the Bar
Today is the day that Kentucky's bar examiners announce the results of the July 2007 bar exam. I wish all of my law school's graduates the very best as they await their results.

I greatly admire Michael Froomkin and, but Michael is wrong to downplay the significance of bar passage rates. No, the bar is not an intellectually stimulating or fulfilling exercise. I am willing to concede that it bears some rational relationship to the actual practice of law. But the bar does matter. A lot. Passing it typically represents the difference between working and not working. At the very least, it represents the difference between working in the family court and working in the food court.

Again, I wish all my graduates the very best as they await their bar results. May you all pass. And if you choose to celebrate at the nearest food court, do so with gusto. Just don't work there.

Food court


Anonymous Michael Froomkin said...

For better or worse, my main point in the post to which you so very graciously refer was not primarily that bar pass rates don't ever matter much, but rather that relatively small differences in the bar pass rate don't mean hardly anything.

Yes, bragging rights about bar pass rates are highly over-rated.

For example, last year UM's bar pass rate was just barely #2 in the state of Florida. This year UM has sunk to #5 in the state for bar passage -- sounds terrible, right? But we're only 3.2% behind the leader in the state (as opposed to last year when we were 2.4% behind). I just don't think a relative fluctuation of 0.8% is very informative.

Indeed the top seven schools in the state are bunched up within a 4.6% spread. I don't think those numbers tell you much that is meaningful about the relative merits of the schools in question.

There does come some point where the bar pass drops so low that it's a red flag (well, usually, unless the school is avowedly taking chances on admissions and students know it). I don't know where that point is. But I'm pretty sure none of the top seven school in Florida are close to it this year.

But in another way, I am guilty as charged: I do believe that it's generally an error to teach to the bar when there's so much else to teach too.

And I believe that only gross differences in this statistic have much chance to be meaningful. Small gaps or fluctuations tell you very little.

I suspect you might agree with both of those last two propositions?

10/15/2007 10:14 PM  

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