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MONTH-IN-BRIEF (May 2020)

Professional Responsibility

California Bar Records Historically Low Pass Rate

By Keith R. Fisher 

According to a press release from the State Bar of California, the overall pass rate for the February 2020 bar exam was a mere 26.8 percent.  Disaggregating the data further, the pass rate for first-time takers was 38 percent, but the pass rate for retakers was an astonishingly low 22 percent.  By way of comparison, the overall pass rate for the February 2019 bar exam was 31.4 percent. 

The pass rate for graduates of CA-accredited but not ABA accredited schools was only 17% for first timers and 10% for repeaters.  Pass rates for graduates of the various categories of unaccredited schools were even lower. 

The current results mark the second-lowest pass rate since the February 1982 exam and the second time since 1986 that the overall pass rate has fallen below 30 percent.  The February 2020 exam boasts the lowest pass rate since 1951, the oldest date listed in the data summarizing pass rates released by the California Bar’s Committee of Bar Examiners.

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