Two Indiana law schools soar on ultimate bar passage rate

April 22, 2019

The 2016 graduates from two Indiana law schools have exceeded the national two-year bar passage rate of 88.57 percent, according to recently released data from the American Bar Association.

Notre Dame Law School and Indiana University Maurer School of Law classes of 2016 bested the national average with passage rates of 94.01 percent and 93.55 percent, respectively. 

The ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar released the comprehensive data April 19 on the Class of 2016’s ultimate aggregate success rate. Nationally, 36,400 individuals graduated from ABA-accredited law schools in 2016 and 34,762 of them took a bar exam, with 30,789, or 88.57 percent, passing.

Overall, the two-year bar passage rate was largely unchanged from 88.49 percent turned in by the Class of 2015. However, IU Maurer’s 2015 graduates tallied an ultimate rate of 85.48 percent, while Notre Dame’s 2015 graduates hit 97.19 percent.

The Class of 2016 from Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law had a two-year bar passage rate of 83.65 percent. Valparaiso Law School’s 2016 graduates scored an ultimate rate of 65.99 percent.

Across the country, Arizona Summit Law School had the lowest two-year bar passage rate at 50 percent. That school was followed by Howard University at 54.64 percent and Pontifical Catholic University of Puerto Rico at 54.47 percent.

Four law schools turned in perfect passage rates of 100 percent — University of Chicago, Concordia Law School, University of Wisconsin and Yale University.

Nationally, 1,097 members of the Class of 2016, or 3.01 percent, did not sit for a bar exam. Comparatively, seven of the 193 who graduated from IU Maurer in 2016, or 3.63 percent, did not take a bar while five of the 172, or 2.91 percent, at Notre Dame did not sit for the exam. Also, 17 of IU McKinney’s 226 graduates, or 7.52 percent, and 11 of Valparaiso’s 162 graduates, or 6.79 percent, did not take a bar exam.  

The American Bar Association has been considering a proposal that would require at least 75 percent of any law school’s graduates who sit for the bar exam to pass it within two years of graduation. Under the current standard, law schools must achieve a 75 percent ultimate bar pass rate within five years.

Two times the ABA House of Delegates has rejected the proposal. In 2017, the change failed on a voice vote and in 2019, the revised standard was trounced by an 334-88 vote.

Valparaiso Law School will close at the end of the 2020 school year.