DeVry University, a publicly-traded,
Chicago-based provider of vocational and college training, is a
leading contender to purchase the BAR/BRI bar review, according to industry
The current asking price is believed
to be about $227.3 million. BAR/BRI was sold in 1974 to Harcourt Brace
Jovanovich for about $5 million.
DeVry previously purchased BAR/BRI's CPA review course and is known
to be interested in expanding into bar review.
BAR/BRI is currently owned by West
Publishing, the nation's largest legal publishing company and the owner of
Westlaw, which, along with LexisNexis, provides the lion's share of online
legal research. West has told its executives that BAR/BRI no longer fits
the company's plans.
BAR/BRI was founded in the 1960s by
William A. Rutter and Jan Horn (BAR) and Jeffrey Rubinstein, Beardsley
Rummel, and Lewis Collens (BRI).
BAR/BRI grew dramatically in the 1970s,
1980s and 1990s, under the leadership of Stan Chess, Steve Levine, and Dick
BAR/BRI is currently headed by Mike
Simms, a Texas attorney.
BAR/BRI also owns the BarPassers
bar review course and the Micromash bar review course.
Many potential purchasers of the
nation's largest bar review program are concerned about BAR/BRI's limited
upside (It claims to have more than 90 per cent of the national market) and
dramatic potential downside, about the increase in competition and the
declining number of students paying for a traditional full-service course, and
about BAR/BRI's defense of numerous lawsuits.
Bar review competitors include Kaplan
PMBR (owned by the Washington Post Company), Reed Bar Review, Rigos Bar
Review, Emanuel Bar Review, Pieper Bar Review, Themis Bar Review, Pass the
Bar, and BarMax. BAR/BRI materials, which were once hard to obtain in
second-hand condition, are now sold freely on eBay and Craigslist in a
large secondary market.
signed by Conviser, Levine, and Chess (pdf)