It’s a serious ‘bear’ market for law schools, it seems, if the current trends in the US are anything to go by.  And the finger is being pointed at “less capable” law students entering law school.

There has been a record-breaking drop in the average scores for bar exam multiple choice section passes, according to new information from the National Conference of Bar Examiners.

The data shows that the average score on the July test is down 1.6 points from July 2014, dropping from 141.5 to 139.9, the organization said. Since July 2013, the mean score on the multiple portion of the exam has decreased by 4.4 points from 144.3 to 139.9.

Bloomberg Business talked to NCBE President Erica Moeser about the results:

“It was not unexpected,” says Erica Moeser, the president of the NCBE, which creates the multiple choice part of the test. “We are in a period where we can expect to see some decline, until the market for going to law school improves.”

Law schools have been admitting students with lower qualifications who “may encounter difficulty” when taking the bar, Moeser says.

According to Bloomberg Business, about a dozen states have released the full results of the July bar exam. Most of those states reported a decline in passage rates versus 2014, the article said.

The WSJ Law Blog reports that the new numbers are sure to inflame the controversy over why more students are failing the exam.  Some law school deans have pointed fingers at the NCBE, a national Wisconsin-based non-profit that prepares widely used standardized portions of the test. Those deans say the problem isn’t with their students but question how the exam was prepared and scored.

Ms. Moeser has defended the integrity of the group’s exam and thinks the scores indicate that law schools are admitting less capable students than they used to. She points to law school entrance exam data that she says suggests that schools have lowered their standards.

“Over the course of the past year, that analysis pointed to the probability that the scores earned in July 2015 would represent the continuation of a downward slide, and that is what we can now confirm,” Ms. Moeser wrote in a column in the latest issue of her organization’s quarterly magazine.

Source: WSJ Law Blog

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