Over the course of the last several weeks, U.S. state officials from the National Bar Association released nation-wide results for the July bar exam, and it became clear that in many states scores had experienced the largest single-year drop in in the history of the test. Delaware, Iowa, Minnesota, Oregon, Tennessee and Texas had a drop of 9%, while Idaho saw an almost 15% drop from last year’s 80% pass rate.
Erica Moeser, president of the National Conference of Bar Examiners, claims that the students who took the bar exam in July of 2014 were “less able” than the students who took the exam in July of 2013. She then suggested that the pattern may be due to the fact that students are being admitted to law schools today even if they have lower LSAT scores.
Law schools appear to be on the defensive on this subject, as the industry is going through tough times with less traffic in applications. Bloomberg Business writes, “In 2015 fewer people applied to law school than at any point in the last 30 years. Law schools are seeing enrollments plummet and have tried to keep their campuses alive by admitting students with worse credentials.”
The decrease in law school applications comes as a result of changes within the industry. Due to the financial crisis within the industry, businesses cut back on legal spending, which caused less flexibility for recruitment within law firms. According to the American Bar Association, statistics show that among the 2014 graduates of law school only 60% found full-time positions requiring a law license. Due to the decrease in opportunities for employment within the industry, college grads are steering clear of the profession. This year fewer students are expected to apply for law school than at any point in the last 10 years, while 2014 showed the lowest law school enrollments in the last 40 years.
New results due out in September will be critical in determining whether last months results were an anomaly, or symptom of a bigger problem.