CUNY LAW RAISES 'BAR'
February 2, 2004 -- A startling 44 percent of graduates of the City University Law School flunked the state bar exam last year - but officials promise that rate will improve dramatically, because the school has just recruited its best class ever under a new stricter admissions policy.
The 56 percent pass rate is up 6 points over 2002, but that's still about 20 points lower than the state average for all law-school students and 18 points lower than CUNY Law's 74 percent pass rate in 2000.
The bottom line is that students can't practice law unless they pass the bar.
CUNY officials admit the pass rate is still unacceptably low, but things could soon change.
Under the rigorous new admissions policy approved last year by CUNY Chancellor Matthew Goldstein and the board of trustees, the law school virtually eliminated acceptance of students with mediocre scores on the Law School Admissions Test.
The tighter screening means nearly all the students admitted last year scored above the established 145 cutoff score on the LSAT, compared to the class of 2002, where about 25 percent were accepted despite having lower scores.
"Our first-year class is the best ever, as shown by the LSAT scores," said CUNY Law School Dean Kristin Booth Glen.
And students in the new class have the highest college grade-point average since the law school's creation in 1983, she added.
The law school also is tossing out students who fail to maintain a 2.0 - or C - grade-point average.
"The academic-standing policies adopted last year are now among the most rigorous of any law school in the country," Booth Glen said.
But former CUNY board Chairman Herman Badillo said the jury is still out on the law school.
"A 56 pass rate is not impressive," said Badillo. "The final test is passing the bar exam."