February 21, 2017
Following up on yesterday's post about Syracuse Law's successful reforms that dramatically improved the bar pass rate of its graduates, I wonder if other schools have similar stories to share? Signed comments only--full name and valid e-mail address; post your comment only once, it may take awhile to appear (I have a busy day).
February 20, 2017
We noted awhile back Syracuse's impressive results on the July 2016 New York bar exam--a pass rate of 89%, fourth highest in the state, behind only Columbia, Cornell, and NYU, and ahead of Fordham, Cardozo, Brooklyn, Buffalo and others. I recently visited Syracuse, and talked with Professor Christian Day about the changes they made to achieve these results. He kindly gave me a written version to share; I'm sure this will be of interest to many schools. Professor Day writes:
In the later 1990s and early 2000s Syracuse had a terrible bar pass rate. One year it was dead last among the 15 New York law schools. A faculty ad hoc committee was created and it developed a program over several years.
Under Dean Hannah Arterian’s leadership the faculty adopted 1L and upper-class curves. The curves are centered on a low B (2.9-3.0) and approximately 8% of the 1L class is dismissed. Before the implementation of the curve, most of the students who were dismissed were re-admitted and placed on probation. But only 10% of that group passed the bar for the first time. With the new curve, a much smaller group of students is re-admitted and placed on probation. The Structured Curriculum, described below, and a comprehensive bar success program, which includes a staff member dedicated to the bar success effort have provided a foundation for achievement. We also inaugurated a comprehensive third year bar prep program. That program was mandatory for those on probation and voluntary for the balance of the student body.
A consultant worked with the College and confirmed that bar exam success was correlated to 1L class rank AND the number of so-called “bar courses” students had taken. Syracuse had a 90% pass rate for students in the upper 75-80% of the 1L class who had taken most of the bar courses for grade. Students who failed the exam took around four of those courses, often on a pass/fail basis. The faculty adopted the Structured Curriculum that requires all students on probation and those below a 2.50 average at the conclusion of the first year to take the following courses for grade: Commercial Transactions, New York Civil Procedure, Business Associations, Constitutional Criminal Procedure—Investigation and Adjudication, Wills and Trusts, Family Law, Evidence, and Foundational Skills for Professional Licensing (a bar prep course taught by faculty or staff that emphasizes exam prep and writing).
The efforts have borne fruit. In 2014 Syracuse and St. John’s tied for fourth place among the New York law schools. In 2016, with the adoption of the Uniform Bar Exam, Syracuse was again in fourth place behind NYU, Columbia and Cornell.
February 07, 2017
The proposal would have required that 75% of graduates taking the bar pass within two years of graduation. I suspect in a Trump Administration, there will be less danger of the ABA losing its accreditation role, but I can imagine a more aggressive Education Department in the future wondering what the explanation could be for rejecting such a standard.
More details here.
February 04, 2017
Judge Gorsuch should speak out in defense of judicial independence in light of Trump's latest disgraceful behavior
February 03, 2017
Deans of 20 ABA-approved law schools in California call on California Supreme Court to intervene and reset the scores for bar passage
February 02, 2017
...but founding the "Fascism Forever Club" does raise questions about one's judgment, even allowing for age!
(Thanks to Michael Swanson for the pointer.)
ADDENDUM: It appears Judge Gorsuch attended a high school run by quite liberal Jesuits (unlike the late Justice Scalia who went to a famously conservative Jesuit high school in New York). I imagine his liberal teachers tended to deride conservatives as "fascists," ergo the conservative students decided to "zing" them back!
ANOTHER: This story confirms that it was, indeed, a joke (and not even an actual club).
January 31, 2017
Brad Hillis called this data compilation he did to my attention; I haven't verified its accuracy, but the recent (2005-17) data looks roughly right. Readers can weigh in at Wikipedia to correct the data if need be. Neither list is adjusted for class size.
Here are the twenty law schools that have produced the most Supreme Court clerks since 1882:
Rank/ Law School/ # clerks / % of all clerks
1) Harvard 607 27%
2) Yale 396 18%
3) Chicago 156 7%
4) Stanford 137 6%
5) Columbia 135 6%
6) Virginia 110 5%
7) Michigan 87 4%
8) Georgetown 61 3%
9) Berkeley 59 3%
10) NYU 54 2%
11) Penn 48
12) Northwestern 42
13) Texas 35
14) GW 26
15) Duke 21
16) UCLA 19
17) Notre Dame-17
18) BYU 13
19) Indiana 11
And here is Mr. Hillis's list of the top 20 law schools which have produced the most clerks since 2005 through 2017 (again, note that Harvard is more than twice the size of Yale, Stanford, and Chicago; that Virginia, Columbia, and NYU are about twice the size of the latter; etc.):
January 27, 2017
Some want to play an "indispensable" role in the search for a new Dean. I'm sure student feedback on candidates will receive some weight, but that's about it. Were I a betting man (I am not), I would bet on John Goldberg or John Manning--both current HLS faculty--to be chosen as the new Dean.
January 23, 2017
January 19, 2017
UPDATED: MOVING TO FRONT FROM YESTERDAY
Here's the report:
As of 1/6/17, there are 134,007 applications submitted by 21,711 applicants for the 2017–2018 academic year. Applicants are down 4.2% and applications are down 2.2% from 2016–2017.
Last year at this time, we had 40% of the preliminary final applicant count.
Although there has been a trend towards increasingly later applications, this figure does suggest that we are going to see a slight, but not negligible, decline in applicants this cycle.
UPDATE: But now LSAC reports that LSAT-takers in December were up nearly 8% from the prior year! The likely explanation though, is a scheduling change, which led more applicants to skip the early fall LSAT in favor of the December one. But that would also account for the decline in applicants noted in the 1/6/17 report. So my guess now is that we won't be seeing any decline in the applicant pool this year, so we really are at "the new normal."