Wednesday, September 10, 2008

What do you think about this?
Good idea? Bad idea?

Today, The New York Law Journal had an interesting article about law schools requiring Bar Prep courses as part of their curriculum. Excerpts from the article are below. What do you think about the idea? (Please feel free to post a comment.)

More Schools Offer Bar Prep Courses: Some faculty consider making exam prep classes a requirement

By Leigh Jones

During the first few sessions of "Advanced Analytical Skills" that William Doherty took at Pace Law School, he and his classmates ribbed each other about being in a remedial course.

"That was the joke for the first two weeks, then we were grateful to be in there," said Doherty, an attorney and a police officer in Floral Park, N.Y., who became licensed to practice last year.

The course that Doherty took was a bar exam preparation class offered for credit by Pace Law School in White Plains, N.Y.

Pace was one of the first schools to provide such a course after the American Bar Association (ABA) Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar in 2005 began allowing schools to give bar prep courses for credit.

Since then, more schools have begun offering bar prep courses, and more are expected to do so following another rule change made at the ABA annual meeting in August.


The recent change removed an interpretation of the rules pertaining to law school accreditation and enabled law schools to require students to take bar exam preparation courses in order to graduate.

More school-offered bar prep courses also are anticipated due to an ABA standard revised in February, which makes numerical pass rates a factor in accreditation.

"I don't know if I would've passed without the class," said Doherty about the course he took at Pace. He passed the New York state bar exam on his first try after the law school encouraged him to take the course. His grade-point average at the time was around 3.1, he said.

* * *

Some of the courses focus on the multiple-choice portion of the exam. Others aim to hone essay-writing skills or prepare students for performance test components of bar exams.

At the University of the Pacific McGeorge School of Law in Sacramento, Calif., "Practical and Persuasive Writing" is a pass-fail, two-unit course designed to help students on the written portion and the performance test of the California bar exam. In the fall, some 75 students took the class. In the spring, about 110 students were enrolled.

Pacific McGeorge will consider making the course mandatory for a portion of its third-year classes, said Timothy E. Naccarato, assistant dean for academic programs at the law school.

* * *

For now, many of the schools offering bar prep courses are middle-tier institutions. They want to help ensure that their students, who often have lower Law School Admission Test scores and lower undergraduate grades, can pass the bar at percentages that are comparable to higher-ranked schools, particularly in their own jurisdictions.

The John Marshall Law School is expected to consider requiring some of its students to take a bar preparation course, said Corinne Morrissey, director of academic achievement at the Chicago law school. She teaches "Legal Fundamentals," a course that focuses on the six subjects tested on the multiple-choice part of the bar exam.

* * *

"The principal thing we found out is that it really causes these people to become aware of how difficult the bar exam is," she said.


Anonymous said...

Great idea. Make it a mandatory Spring 3L class or at least highly recommend it. One class geared toward the bar exam won't upset people enough to get any serious opposition. Pick up the bar pass rate and pick up the rankings.

Anonymous said...

As a prospective student, I would appreciate having this course available to me, required or not.