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Carolyn Elefant

Chuck,
I love your blog and your philosophy of the practice of law. But I have to disagree, very strongly, that bar passage rates prove anything. Bar passage rates are quite frankly, a product of a good bar review course and time to study. Bar passage rates at so-called "top tier" schools are generally high because the graduates go on to work at large firms. The firms typically pay for a bar review class and also pay students a stipend so that they can study for 8 weeks without need ing to work. By contrast, many students who attend so called 3 or 4 tier schools may not have employment lined up after law school. As such, if a job opportunity comes up after the summer (e.g., for temp work), they may take it, thereby compromising their study time. Or they may not have the money to pay for a review class. What some law schools are now doing is allowing students to get class credit for taking a bar review class. If students are able to treat bar review courses as a class, then they will have more time to devote to studying. But that does not prove that the school is better, but rather, that it is just giving students an opportunity to study for a test.
My own experience is indicative. After law school, I went to work for the government, so my bar review course wasn't paid. However, I had a job during my third year of law school and started a business (writing resumes and cover letters on the Apple SE that I'd purchased with my summer earnings at biglaw) so I was able to pay for the course. And I stayed in Ithaca to study for the exam where I was able to sublet for about $200 for the entire summer. As such, I didn't have to work and devoted all my time to studying or just hanging out and passed the NY bar easily. By contrast, when I took the Maryland practitioners exam back in 2002, I was married and had two young children and was running my practice part time. It was incredibly stressful studying for test on nights and weekends alone - and that was just the practitioners' exam so it only involved 10 essays on Maryland's rules of practice and procedure. I doubt that I'd have been able to pass a full blown bar in those circumstances - but those are the circumstances of many students at the so-called "3 tier/4tier schools."
There's also a difficulty to bar prep that you overlook: not everyone will practice in the state where the school is located. Perhaps a school in NY or Florida can prepare most students for the bars in those states - but what if they intend to practice elsewhere?

Tom

There are quite a few 'for profit' law schools in California- Western States and Thomas Jefferson are two. Some have decent bar passage rates. Many do not. And there are plenty of bar review courses.

Chuck Newton

I received the following email from Charlotte School of Law informing me that I was wrong to state they were ABA approved. They are working toward this, but have not yet been approved. The email reads in part:

"I would like to clarify one point you make about our school in particular. You have stated that we, along with fellow InfiLaw consortium schools Florida Coastal and PhoenixLaw, have achieved ABA accreditation. As the youngest of the three schools, that is not yet true for CharlotteLaw. The process is well underway and I am happy to report that we have met each of our milestones in preparing for ABA consideration. The ABA site evaluation team visited at the end of September, and we expect to have a decision by late spring or early summer 2008. We are careful to be forthright about the process of receiving provisional accreditation, and regularly communicate our progress to our prospective students and the community at large. You can read more about the process on our website at http://www.charlottelaw.org/about/default.asp?PageID=195.

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