The Blade’s Nov. 3 front page article on the University of Toledo law school’s bar examination passage rate, “UT law school’s passage rate is dismal,” is based on faulty analysis of exam results.
The only meaningful measure of a law school’s educational performance with reference to a bar examination passage rate are results from students first taking the exam, typically within a few weeks of graduation, having spent the intervening time in intensive preparation aided by costly “cram course” tutoring, all to organize and bring to focus the knowledge gained in three years of law school study.
Many of those who fail on this first attempt find retaking the bar exam an even greater challenge. Their law school learning experience is not as fresh, and for a number of practical reasons often involving inability to find time or to afford more tutoring, their preparation is seldom as thorough.
Thus, the passage rate for all takers of a bar exam is invariably lower than the rate for first-time takers. How much lower depends on variable factors all beyond the school’s control, those just mentioned as well as the economy in relation to job opportunities not involving the practice of law, which divert the best qualified into careers for which their legal education is nonetheless a great advantage.
The Blade reports that Toledo and Akron have identical 74 percent first-time bar exam passage rates, but strikingly different “all-takers” rates: 71 percent for Akron, 58 percent for Toledo.
Properly measured by its first-time passage rate, UT law school’s educational performance is precisely the opposite of “dismal.”
In fact, and most significantly, UT’s first-time rate has been improving. If it is not yet what Dean Benjamin Barros is quoted as saying he would like it to be, the challenges to make it so do not involve overcoming any deficit in the quality of the school’s intellectual resources or educational offerings.
Simply put, UT’s law school has never had a faculty with more impressive scholarly credentials and a greater commitment to teaching than the one Dean Barros now leads.
DONALD F. MELHORN, JR.
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