Academics, News

BC Law Earns 10th Highest Bar Exam Pass Rate Nationally

Boston College Law School had the 10th highest first-time bar exam pass rate in 2023, at 95.88 percent, according to a ranking by Reuters.

“It’s been the result of a lot of hard work and commitment by a lot of people at the law school,” said Jeffrey Cohen, chair of the bar passage and academic success committee at BC Law. “We believe at the law school that we should have 100 percent bar passage, so we still feel like we should have a lot of work to do.”

The American Bar Association released the bar exam data concerning national results for its 197 accredited U.S. law schools on March 12, according to Reuters

The ranking considered the percentage of J.D. graduates who took and passed the bar exam for the first time in 2023. 

BC Law’s 95.88 percent first-time bar pass rate was well above the national average of 79.18 percent. This year’s new rate marks an improvement for BC Law, according to Nina Farber, director of the Academic Success Programs at BC Law. 

“The law school was seeing a little bit of a slide in bar passage and it was more, I think, that other law schools were kind of jumping up ahead of us in the area,” Farber said. “That’s when the current dean of academic affairs worked with the bar committee to understand what things are indicators of not passing the bar and how could we work better to support our students.”

Since then, BC Law has implemented early bar prep courses, classes teaching strategies to pass the bar exam, and a mentoring program to pair students with faculty for support through the bar process, Cohen and Farber said.

“It’s not just that we are really focusing on the bar exam—we’re focusing on developing skills throughout their law school career that will ultimately lead to success on the bar exam,” Farber said.

While many of the law schools with the highest 2023 first-time bar pass rates were among the top-ranked law schools in the country, others were not—BC is ranked at No. 28 by the U.S. News and World Report.

“Ten of the 15 law schools with the highest 2023 first-time bar pass rates are in the so-called T-14, which are ranked in the top 14 by U.S. News & World Report,” the Reuters ranking reads. “Five schools outside the T-14 also made that list.”

BC was one of two law schools from Massachusetts to make the ranking’s top 15, alongside Harvard Law School one spot ahead at No. 9.

The bar exam is set to change in the coming years, which may present challenges in how BC Law prepares its students for the exam, Cohen said.

“The bar exam itself is going to be changing for the class that’s coming into law school next year, or potentially changing,” Cohen said. “We’re going to have challenges of trying to figure out how to replicate our results.”

Nevertheless, the newly implemented resources and programming puts BC Law students on an upward trajectory, Cohen said.

“We’re expecting to see BC at 100 percent in a few years,” Cohen said.

April 23, 2024

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