Does it Make Dollars and Cents to Take a Bar Exam Prep Course?

man reading

Stephen Grimm

President and Partner,

After spending a virtual “mint” to graduate from law school, you are faced with a decision on whether to commit more money to assist you in passing the state bar exam. At this critical stage, every opportunity should be considered to better to increase chances of success. The odds are not in your favor, as bar exam passage has been declining on a percentage basis for several years. For example, while results for the California Bar improved slightly with the July 2017* exam, the pass numbers for the past several summer exams, has been mediocre, at best:

  • July 2017* - 49.6%
  • July 2016 -  43.1%
  • July 2015 -  46.6%
  • July 2014 -  48.6%
  • July 2013 -  55.8%
  • July 2012 - 55.3%

*the State Bar changed the method for calculating % passage to exclude those who sat for but did not finish the exam.

Are Law Schools Really Lowering their Admission Standards?

san diego state university admissions sign

Yes, they are, and it is directly affecting bar pass rates in most of the states. The result is that currently, enrolled students should seriously consider remedial coursework while in law school, and graduates should enroll in a bar preparation review course aimed at getting today’s student prepared for the bar exam.

As law schools across the country try to keep their classrooms full, many are admitting students with lesser qualifications, including those with a lower admissions test score - considered an important predictor of whether a graduate will earn the credentials to practice law.

The Side Bar Story: A New Way to Pass the Bar Exam and Law School

bar exam, law school

My name is William Hansult. I founded the Side Bar program, with my partner, because after years of experience, I learned two things; first, I knew there was a much better way to structure and deliver a legal education geared at allowing the students to actually learn more efficiently and easily without all of the “hazing.” And second, I learned that the “establishment” did not want me to have the ability to bring this new and innovative program to you.

The Tough Reality of Law School Drop Out and Bar Exam Pass Rates

My story is not unlike many others in that my parents instilled in me that an advanced education would be a path to the future. Although, while growing up, my Mom would often say to me that I would make a good lawyer, I ended up taking a different path and went to business school and eventually went on to get an MBA.

Do Current Law Students Need Remedial Study and Different External Bar Preparation?

law student studying for bar exam

The short answers are: 'it depends' and 'probably.' Why? Because students, circumstances, and bar results have changed in the last decade.

Traditionally, because of the general difficulty of state bar exams, a majority of law school graduates had chosen to take some form of external bar preparation course. Despite the rigors of law school and the emphasis on legal analysis, culminating in writing essay exams, state bar exams were found to be difficult to pass.

Why the System is Flawed

Within the traditional setting, law schools had emphasized the precepts of IRAC (Issue, Rule, Analysis, Conclusion), and thus concentrated their classes on these precepts to culminate in training students to be very adept at approaching, analyzing, and writing essay exams. For bar exam takers, this left a gap - the dreaded multiple choice questions called the MBE.

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