Cooley’s President and Dean, Don LeDuc, is publishing commentaries on the Law School, legal education, and related topics. This post summarizes President LeDuc’s analysis of the flawed Michigan bar examination and his call for intervention by the Michigan Supreme Court.
The July 2012 Michigan bar examination results for Michigan’s law schools are shocking, as were the February 2012 results. Compared to the results in the past five years, these outcomes are so low that they deserve serious scrutiny. There are only two possible explanations for this precipitous downturn—either all of Michigan’s law schools have experienced a sudden and common decline in their admissions standards, in the nature of their educational programs and assessment practices, and in the quality of their graduates; or there is a problem in the 2012 examination process itself.
The data, detailed in the full commentary, demonstrate without doubt that the only possibility is the examination process: the quality of the examination questions has altered, or the evaluation and scoring of the examination answers have declined.
Law Schools certainly need to review admission, teaching, grading, and bar preparation efforts, including finding ways to increase the efforts of students and graduates to prepare for the examination. But the 2012 results are a great disservice to those who took the examination and to the law schools, an issue that should have been addressed by the Supreme Court and the Board of Law Examiners before these results were released. These bodies and the law schools have a common responsibility to assure that the bar examination is a valid vehicle for assuring that those who seek to enter the legal profession have a minimally acceptable level of competence.
These results are not for real. The Supreme Court must take the lead to correct the anomaly evidenced in the 2012 examinations, and it must do so immediately.
Read President LeDuc’s commentary in full.
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