photo of Spring 2019 ASU Law graduates

ASU Law’s bar-passage rate continues to lead state, exceed national average

By

Nicole Almond Anderson

The Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University remains one of the premier law schools in the country for bar-passage results, according to the latest data released by the American Bar Association.

Among first-time test takers in 2019, ASU Law posted a passage rate of 86.69% (241 out of 278), which was well above the national average of 79.64%. The gap was even greater between ASU Law and the Arizona statewide average of 74.17%.

“We have always been focused on giving our students a thorough and thought-provoking legal education, while maintaining our commitment to helping them achieve their ultimate career goals,” said ASU Law Dean Douglas Sylvester. “ASU Law is a results-oriented institution, and our outstanding bar-passage and job-placement numbers continue to underscore our commitment to providing value and positive outcomes for our students.”

The ABA report shows ASU Law also tops the national and statewide averages in ultimate bar passage, which measures graduates who passed the exam within two years of graduation. Among the 204 ASU Law graduates from 2017 who took the bar exam, 185 passed within two years, for an ultimate passage rate of 90.69%. That topped the national average of 89.47%, and exceeded the state average, as well as all other ABA-accredited law schools in the region.

The data was released by the managing director’s office of the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar. Barry Currier, the section’s managing director, said the most recent data was compiled from reports to the ABA from law schools, and is not part of compliance reports for ABA Standard 316, which establishes bar exam outcomes law schools must achieve to maintain accreditation. But he said “the public reports do provide important consumer information for students considering whether and where to attend law school and for others with an interest in legal education.”

Currier said there is no better measure than the bar-passage results for determining how rigorous a legal education a law school is offering to its students.

Although ASU Law has consistently led the state in bar-passage rate, the 86.69% figure for first-time takers in 2019 marked significant improvement from previous years:

• In 2018, ASU Law posted a first-time passage rate of 74.33% (194 out of 261), exceeding the statewide average of 69.91%.

• In 2017, ASU Law posted a first-time passage rate of 75.4% (141 out of 187), exceeding the statewide average of 64.94%.

Similarly, ASU Law has continually led the state in ultimate bar-passage rates:

• The two-year passage rate for 2016 ASU Law graduates was 92.81% (155 out of 167), exceeding the national average of 88.70% and topping the other two ABA-accredited law schools in Arizona by 0.65% and 42.81% respectively.  

• The two-year passage rate for 2015 ASU Law graduates was 93.4% (198 out of 212), topping the national average of 88.32% and outpacing the other two ABA-accredited law schools in Arizona by 6.9% and 33.65% respectively. 

Andrew Jaynes is the assistant dean of admissions and financial aid. He says ASU Law has established itself as a top-tier law school, and the consistently high bar-passage results not only bolster the school’s reputation but also attract elite students to continue producing those high marks.

“We’ve risen further and faster than any law school, and that has led to an increase in applicants not just from Arizona but from throughout the country,” Jaynes said. “People realize we’ve got a lot to offer, when you combine the quality and value of education we’ve proven we can provide, along with our unique location and status as the lone law school in the heart of the fifth-largest city in the U.S., surrounded by law firms, major companies and government agencies of all levels."

The state bar exam is administered biannually, every February and July, although a majority of students take the summer test. Results are posted by the Arizona Supreme Court Committee on Examinations.

ASU Law has led the state in bar-passage percentage and average score on the summer exam every year since 2014 while posting one of the nation’s highest bar-exam differentials compared to the statewide average.

The passage percentages are broken down by first-time test-takers and repeat test-takers, and ASU Law’s passage rate for first-time takers of the summer exam in 2019 was 88.0%. It was the school’s best mark since 2014, and more than 20 points higher than the No. 2 school in the state. And ASU Law’s average score on the 2019 summer exam was 296.8, the highest of any law school in Arizona in the six-year period.