RALEIGH — Bar passage rates are better measures of the quality of legal education than graduation or employment rates, states Professor Jeffrey S. Kinsler in an article titled, “Schools whose grads overperform on the bar exam,” in preLaw magazine’s Winter 2024 edition.
The article features Campbell Law School and Dean J. Rich Leonard along with Assistant Dean of Academic Support and Bar Success Sha Hinds-Glick.
That’s because a study Kinsler, who is founding dean at Belmont University College of Law in Tennessee, published in 2023 found Campbell Law graduates are tops in “overperforming” on the bar exam. The study, “Ultimate Bar Passage Rates: Which Law Schools Are Overperforming and Underperforming Expectations,” reveals there are quite a few law schools that are doing better than expected when it comes to their graduates passing the bar, but none better than Campbell Law.
“Bar passage is our DNA, and we think about it constantly,” Leonard is quoted as saying in the article. “We’re a pretty old-fashioned law school, and we have a heavy required curriculum. Sixty of the 90 hours to graduate are courses we require, so everything on the bar exam is a required course here. Unlike many law schools where students are seeing material for the first time in bar review, that’s just not true here.”
Leonard added the school starts preparing students for the bar exam almost immediately and continues through all three years of law school.
The article continues, one preparatory course is called Practical Skills for Lawyers. It is based on the methodology of the multi-state practice exam, the 90-minute sections students undertake on the first morning of the bar exam. Evidence shows that the way to success on that part of the bar exam is simply to practice. “There doesn’t seem to be much correlation on that piece of the bar exam with any other measure except how much you practiced,” Leonard said in the article.
The magazine goes on to say Campbell Law also has faculty members who focus almost exclusively on the bar exam. One of Hinds-Glick’s duties is to lead a bar essay preparation course in which students practice with essay questions from previous bar exams. Their practice essays are graded and returned within 48 hours so students get timely feedback.
Leonard added in the magazine, “I honestly believe that if you’re going to be a well-rounded lawyer, you need to know substantive law in a lot of areas, even if you’re never going to practice it. You need to know what’s out there and understand when you’ve rubbed up against it and it’s impacting a case of yours.”
Read the full article at this link.
In his study, Kinsler used Law School Admission Test (LSAT) scores and undergraduate grade point average (UGPA) to calculate a predicted bar passage rate, identifying which law schools are overperforming or underperforming in terms of preparing their students to pass the bar exam. Kinsler used linear regression models to assess the performance of 186 law schools using median LSAT and Ultimate Bar Pass Rate and median UGPA and Ultimate Bar Pass Rate.
He proceeded to calculate an annual rank for each law school based on its overperformance (or underperformance) of predicted expectations for bar passage, and then he calculated an average annual rank based on each law school’s performance over the three-year period of 2017–2019.
Based on Kinsler’s findings, these are the top 20 law schools whose graduates overperform on ultimate bar exam rates (based on UGPA and LSAT scores of incoming students from 2017 to 2019):
- Campbell University Norman Adrian Wiggins School of Law
- Liberty University School of Law
- Lincoln Memorial University Duncan School of Law
- Belmont University College of Law
- Samford University Cumberland School of Law
- Georgia State University College of Law
- Saint Louis University School of Law
- Syracuse University College of Law
- South Texas College of Law Houston
- University of Oklahoma College of Law
- Florida International University College of Law
- Seton Hall University School of Law
- Northern Illinois University College of Law
- Texas A&M University School of Law
- City University of New York School of Law
- Willamette University College of Law
- University of South Carolina School of Law
- Thomas R. Kline School of Law of Duquesne University
- University of Kansas School of Law
- Yeshiva University Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law
According to the American Bar Association, bar passage rates are “the single best outcome measure . . . in assessing whether a law school is maintaining a ‘rigorous program of legal education.’” Bar passage rates are better measures of the quality of legal education than graduation rates or employment results, for these outcomes “are not as directly relevant . . . to determining whether a law school is offering an educational program that is comprehensive and sufficiently rigorous. . ..” A law school’s bar passage rate is a metric of the quality of its graduates and its educational program.
ABOUT CAMPBELL LAW SCHOOL
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 best Trial Advocacy Program. Campbell Law nearly 5,000 alumni, who make their home in nearly all 50 states and beyond. In 2024, Campbell Law is celebrating 45 years of graduating legal leaders and 15 years of being located in a state-of-the-art facility in the heart of North Carolina’s Capital City.