Michigan bar exam passers up in July 2017

By Lee Dryden
BridgeTower Media Newswires
 
DETROIT — After some concerning results earlier in the year, the July 2017 Michigan bar exam statistics brought much better news.

Seventy-three percent of total applicants passed the July exam, compared with 49 percent in February 2017 and 66 percent in July 2016. The number of aspiring lawyers taking the test dropped slightly from 695 in July 2016 to 680 in July 2017, according to Board of Law Examiners statistics for Michigan and out-of-state law schools after appeals.

Results from the July 2017 exam, released in December, are as follows:

The University of Michigan Law School had the top passing percentage with 33 of its 34 exam takers — 97 percent — earning a successful mark. That shows improvement from July 2016 when 31 of 37 — 84 percent — passed.

In second place was the Michigan State University College of Law with 82 percent — 116 of 142 — passing. That’s a 3 percent increase from July 2016 when 118 of 150 graduates — 79 percent — made the grade.

Next is Wayne State University Law School with 79 percent — 86 of 109 — passing. That result is up 4 percent from July 2016 when 96 of 128 graduates — 75 percent — made the grade.

Seventy-six percent of University of Detroit Mercy School of Law applicants — or 71 of 94 — passed the July 2017 exam compared with 58 percent or 50 of 86 in July 2016.

Western Michigan University Cooley Law School saw about half of graduates — 82 of 163 —pass the exam. A year earlier, 41 percent passed from WMU-Cooley — 72 of 175 applicants.

Overall, the BLE reported that 411 of 524 first-time test takers — or 78 percent — received a passing mark in July 2017, slightly up from the previous year’s total of 77 percent or 417 of 544.

As for those taking the exam again, 55 percent passed in July 2017 — or 86 of 156 — a much better showing than July 2016 with 41 of 151 — or 27 percent — passing.

Michigan’s bar exam consists of the multiple-choice Multistate Bar Examination (MBE), created and scored by the National Conference of Bar Examiners, and the essay questions prepared and scored by — or under the supervision of — the Board of Law Examiners. Specific information about multiple choice results is not shared.

After the February exam results were released, law school officials reported that some applicants complained of difficult essay questions on obscure topics that they did not expect. A state courts spokesman said test takers shouldn’t have been surprised by the material as topics are listed in a Board of Law Examiners rule.

Sarah Garrison, director of bar preparation at the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law, said the July 2017 exam focused on the “more traditionally tested subject areas so there were fewer surprises for students and they felt confident throughout.”

“We hope that the increase in confidence was attributable, in some degree, to our increase in the use of assessments more often and earlier in their law school career and to our being more proactive in working with at-risk students,” she said. “We are also hopeful that this upward trend continues.”

Megan Canty, director of academic success and bar exam preparation at Wayne State University Law School, said the improved statewide pass rate in July 2017 is likely the result of many factors.

“What we can say for sure is that the MBE mean score was the highest it has been since 2013 nationally, and that the essay questions, while lengthy and still complex, returned to form in terms of the topics they required examinees to know,” she said.

The July 2017 essay portion tested “standard” topics such as personal property, no-fault, civil procedure, equity, criminal procedure, secured transactions, corporations, and family law, Canty said.

“While the questions were lengthy and required in-depth knowledge and analysis, the fact that the essays covered topics known to be standard on the Michigan exam allowed students the opportunity to be better prepared than they could be for the February questions, which addressed some rare and highly nuanced legal issues,” she said.

Canty said Wayne State and other Michigan law schools have been developing programs to “help ensure graduates receive additional support and education to prepare them properly for the exam.”

“While reliable data on the impact of these programs is not yet available, we are likely starting to see the impact of law schools engaging in innovative approaches to prepare their graduates for our state’s famously challenging exam,” she said.

In reaction to the July 2017 results, Emily S. Horvath, director of academic services and an associate professor at Western Michigan University Cooley Law School, said, “We have not seen a significant change in the credentials of the applicants taking the exam, therefore, we can only speculate that the level of difficulty of the exam questions and the grading varies from exam to exam.”

Comments

  1. No comments
Sign in to post a comment »