The Legal Beat
Dean Of Elite Law School Joins Fight To Lower California Bar Exam Cut Score
Posted on Wednesday May 15, 2019
If we care about diversity and inclusion in the legal profession, and I will assume that we do, then the current bar exam cut score is simply unconscionable. Because of our outlier cut score, many of our promising and talented law graduates are losing their jobs and increasing their debt. So it is abundantly clear that our abnormally high cut score adversely impacts the diversity of the legal profession. And if we were to reduce the cut score to at least the national average, we would immediately ensure that the lawyers entering the profession in California come closer to representing our population and also diversity of students who graduate from our law schools.
— Dean L. Song Richardson of the University of California, Irvine School of Law, in a plea made before the California Assembly Judiciary Committee to lower the state bar exam’s cut score of 144, which is currently the second-highest in the country. If the July 2018 bar exam’s cut score had been 135, the mean passing score of all states offering a test, the overall success rate would have been 63 percent (as opposed to 42 percent), and 149 more African-American test-takers would have passed the exam (a 125 percent increase).
Staci Zaretsky is a senior editor at Above the Law, where she’s worked since 2011. She’d love to hear from you, so please feel free to email her with any tips, questions, comments, or critiques. You can follow her on Twitter or connect with her on LinkedIn.