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LSU Tops Tulane on the Bar Exam

  • Advocate Capitol News Bureau
  • Published: Oct 14, 2008 - Page: 4B
LSU maintained its usual standing this year atop the Louisiana State Bar Exam passage list.

With a 78.2 percent passage rate, the LSU Paul M. Hebert Law Center bested the Tulane University Law School's 76.3 percent.

"I'm quite pleased with our bar passage rate," said Jack Weiss, LSU Law Center chancellor.

While Tulane consistently ranks higher than LSU in law school rankings guides, LSU just as consistently beats Tulane in the bar exam, which must be passed to practice law in the state.

Since 1978, only in 2004 did Tulane students outperform LSU in the bar exam, which caused a public stir. But LSU moved back to first in the state in 2005.

"We certainly like to be ranked No. 1 in the bar passage rate, and we would not like to be ranked anything but No. 1," Weiss said without mentioning Tulane by name.

The Southern University Law Center had a 52.2 percent passage rate this year, while Loyola University College of Law in New Orleans students passed at a 70.5 percent rate.

On average, LSU tends to have a passage rate of 80 percent or slightly higher.

But Weiss cautioned that the key is to look at the amount above in the state average.

The state passage rate was 64.3 percent, which Weiss said put LSU a strong nearly 14 percentage points above the norm.

Weiss pointed to an "aberration" year in 2006 when 91 percent of LSU students passed the bar. The state average, however, was a high 76 percent. So the difference was roughly the same as this year, he said.

In the U.S. News & World Report rankings of law schools, LSU came in 88th nationally in 2008. But Tulane was 44th.

Weiss noted that bar passage rates are only a small part of the ranking formula.

When asked whether the passage rates should factor in more, Weiss said, "That's a much more complicated discussion about the goals of legal education."

Law schools should not teach just for the sake of passing bar exams, he said.

Only 9 percent of LSU students failed the bar exam, which was taken in July. Students also can take the test in April, but most do so in July.

Another 12.7 percent of students scored in the "conditioned" category. That means they did well enough that they only need to retake portions of the nine-section test, which Weiss described as the longest in the nation.