The legal profession is currently grappling with several issues: diversity of the bar, bar-exam pass rates, and accreditation standards for law schools. The American Bar Association (ABA) wants to raise the standard for passing the bar exam. The ABA proposal would require 75% of a law school's graduates who sit for a bar exam to pass the test within two years. This proposal comes in response to a nationwide trend of declining bar scores.
The ABA proposal has drawn fierce opposition, particularly from the largest nationwide black law student association. The expressed concern is over potential impact on schools with high minority student populations. The organization asserts the proposal would “jeopardize the existence of traditionally minority law schools and ultimately erase the profession's modest gains in diversity over the last several decades,”. The organization opposing the regulation includes Deans from Howard University, Thurgood Marshall School of Law at Texas Southern University, and Florida A&M University.
The ABA currently requires law schools to report bar-exam passage rates of at least 70% of its graduates (who took the exam for the first time) during the prior calendar year. Many of the schools opposing the ABA's proposal are reporting current passage rates in the 60% - 70% range. It's important to note the ABA's reporting requirement is currently flawed: it doesn't require schools to provide full / accurate data. Schools can clearly hide negative results; they only have to report 70% of it's students; they only have to report "first-time" exam takers, etc. Even with these flaws, these schools still have poor passage rates.
One law professor also made a rather important point: law school graduates who fail the bar exam do not diversify the profession; they just incur significant financial expense. It is a dirty secret that many law schools (some for-profit) are targeting individuals who have no business ever applying for (much less attending) law school. These law schools are making a profit off these "students", who have zero chance every actually becoming a lawyer. Yes, they will graduate; because as long as the student can pay tuition with student loans the school will push them through. However, that student will never actually pass the bar exam because they simply are not capable.
This brings me to my final point. Some of these law schools are opposing these recent proposals to tighten accreditation credentials, bar exam requirements, etc. Why? As always, follow the money. These schools are making lots of money off these unqualified students. In some instances, their base of students include a fair amount of minorities. It doesn't matter whether the person is white, black, or green. If the person is not capable of performing the difficult tasks of an attorney, the person has no business ever going to law school, period. In Charlotte, North Carolina, we have a for-profit law school that preys on such unqualified individuals. This "school" churns out people with law degrees every year. A few of them manage to somehow pass the bar exam. Unfortunately, the real loser is the general public - because someone will unknowingly hire one of these unprepared / unqualified people and suffer real harm to their case.
The North Carolina Bar, The ABA, and the law schools are all failing the public in this regard. The culprit - money. My suggestion to you (the public): when you call a lawyer for a consultation, actually ask him / her where they went to school, how long they have practiced, etc.; check the internet for reviews; ask your friends / neighbors for a referral; do some basic research & make sure you're comfortable you're hiring a qualified lawyer.