Bar exam passers down in July 2018

By Lee Dryden
BridgeTower Media Newswires

  DETROIT — July 2018 Michigan bar exam statistics show the number of passers is down from a year ago, with two law schools facing double-digit percentage drops.

Overall, 67 percent of total applicants — 457 of 678 — passed the exam, compared with 73 percent — 497 of 680 — in July 2017, according to Board of Law Examiners statistics for Michigan and out-of-state law schools after appeals.

Results from the July 2018 exam are as follows:

The University of Michigan Law School had the top passing percentage in the state with 33 of its 36 exam takers — 92 percent — earning a successful mark. That is down from July 2017 when 33 of 34 — 97 percent — passed.

In second place as the only Michigan school with rising scores was the Michigan State University College of Law with 84 percent — 118 of 141 — passing. That’s a 2 percent increase from July 2017 when 116 of 142 graduates — 82 percent — made the grade.

Next is Wayne State University Law School with 72 percent — 94 of 131 — passing. That result is down 7 percent from July 2017 when 86 of 109 graduates — 79 percent — passed.

Sixty percent of University of Detroit Mercy School of Law applicants — or 44 of 73 — passed the July 2018 exam compared with 76 percent or 71 of 94 in July 2017.

Western Michigan University Cooley Law School saw 38 percent of graduates — 57 of 149 —pass the exam. A year earlier, just over half passed from WMU-Cooley — 82 of 163 applicants.

At the University of Toledo College of Law, 77 percent of applicants — 10 of 13 — passed, virtually the same percentage as last year when 17 of 22 passed. As for other out-of-state schools, 75 percent of applicants — 101 of 135 — were successful compared with 79 percent — 92 of 116 — last year.

Overall, the BLE reported that 414 of 546 first-time test takers — or 76 percent — received a passing mark in July 2018, slightly down from the previous year’s total of 78 percent or 411 of 524.

As for those taking the exam again, 33 percent passed in July 2018 — or 43 of 132 — which is down significantly from July 2017 with 86 of 156 — or 55 percent — passing.

Michigan’s bar exam consists of the multiple-choice Multistate Bar Examination (MBE), prepared by the National Conference of Bar Examiners, and the essay questions prepared by — or under the supervision of — the Board of Law Examiners or by law professors selected by the board.


WMU-Cooley Interim President Jeffrey L. Martlew issued a statement on the July 2018 results.

“Bar exam results for graduates from all five Michigan law schools have swung up and down over the past few years. We all know that the quality of a particular law school’s educational program is only one of five factors that consistently figure into bar pass success; the others being applicant ability, applicant preparation for the exam, the quality of the applicant’s bar prep program and the relative fairness of the exam.

“WMU-Cooley has a broad access mission, so we should not be surprised if a higher percentage of our graduates struggle on a test like the bar exam. WMU-Cooley has never been out of compliance with ABA Standard 316 on bar passage. But having said that, I am not at all satisfied with these results. That is going to change.

“I have recommended modifications to WMU-Cooley’s admission policy that I believe will be adopted and implemented with our next entering class. That, along with changes in academic policy and cutting edge teaching methods that have already been implemented, should lead to improved performance on the bar exam.”

Sarah Garrison, director of bar preparation at the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law, said,

“Detroit Mercy Law is very proud of our candidates who were successful on the July 2018 bar exam. As every bar exam session is unique, so are the challenges that face our students. Detroit Mercy Law is committed to identifying those challenges in order to better support our students.”

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