Monday, October 3, 2016

New Mexico’s Bar Passage Rates Continue to Drop, Even After Adoption of UBE

The News: On September 29, 2016, Staci Zaretsky posted an ATL entry labeled “Bar Exam Passage Rates Plummet After Adoption of Uniform Bar Exam.” Check out this opening:

“Citing the need for keeping costs down in light of law school graduates’ heavy debt burdens and the need for the portability of law licenses considering the state of the still recovering job market, many jurisdictions adopted the Uniform Bar Exam (UBE) in the past few years. The thought was that with a national exam, a passing score would make it easier for graduates to find work and practice law in other states without having to pay exorbitant testing fees. Going a step further, with state bar exam passage rates plummeting across the nation, the hope was that perhaps a national exam would enable a greater number of law school graduates to actually pass the test and put their law degrees to use. 

New Mexico is one of the states that recently adopted the UBE, starting with the February 2016 exam. On that administration of the exam, the passage rate fell to 69 percent, an 11 percent decline from February 2015, when the passage rate was 80 percent. This summer, the results were even worse, with the overall passage rate falling to 64 percent, an 8 percent decline from July 2015, when the New Mexico bar exam was last administered and the passage rate was 72 percent. 

New Mexico’s only law school, the New Mexico University School of Law, was hit particularly hard by the state’s adoption of the UBE. In February 2016, the school’s passage rate for first-time takers was 71 percent (down from 88 percent in February 2015 when the New Mexico bar exam was administered). In July 2016, the school’s passage rate for first-time takers was 68 percent (down from 81 percent in July 2015 when the New Mexico bar exam was administered). This is the worst UNM Law graduates have performed on the bar exam since July 2008, across 16 other administrations of the test. 

According to the Albuquerque Journal, graduates of the school who failed the exam were “disproportionately minorities and women,” and although 14 Native American UNM Law graduates took the July 2016 exam, none of them passed.” [Emphasis mine]

It would be interesting to see the LSAT scores and undergraduate GPAs of the students who failed the New Mexico state bar exam. There may be a correlation between those numbers. Then again, the real figures of concern to the ABA-accredited stench pit are the total asses in seats – along with the amount of federal student loan money pouring into the school’s coffers.

Other Coverage: On September 28, 2016, the Albuquerque Journal featured an editorial board piece that was entitled “Uniform bar exam is not the problem, is law school?” Take a look at the following portion:

“The law school’s two deans – another arrangement rather unique to New Mexico – said, in a letter to alumni and other people associated with the school, that some other states that adopted the test also saw pass rates drop as well. But Arizona, which adopted the test in 2012, was not one of them. And Colorado’s pass rate dropped slightly from 2012 to 2015.

In their letter, co-deans Sergio Pareja and Alfred Mathewson said the new exam will be studied to see what changes the school needs to make to boost the first-time pass rate to 80 percent by 2018. They also set a goal of having 85 percent of students pass within 18 months. 

In the previous test, half of the essay questions were about New Mexico law. They are not in the new test, and subjects like Indian law and administrative law are not included in the test. There already are cries to abandon the uniform exam. That would be the wrong thing to do and an admission that we just can’t compete. 

The question is not whether the test is too hard, but whether the law school needs to adapt to prepare its students with the uniform exam in mind. 

It’s a competitive world, and passing a uniform bar exam better positions UNM law students as they enter the practice of law. The deans are right to take this approach, and the suggestion by Regents president Rob Doughty, also a UNM law grad, that the school should refocus its efforts on fundamentals is a good one. 

Figure out what’s missing and fill in the holes. 

That also means paying special attention to minority students and working with the legal community to prepare them.” [Emphasis mine]

Don’t be surprised if this toilet includes more bar prep courses in its TT curriculum. Expect the pigs to lobby for inclusion of Indian Law in the next test. You can also count on this dung heap to keep admitting dumber applicants.

The Commode’s Ranking: As you can see, the Univer$iTTy of New Mexico Sewer of Law is rated as the 60th greatest, most amazing, and marvelous law school in the entire damn country. In fact, it only shares this distinct honor with the following four cesspits: Cincinnati, Kentucky, Miami, and Oklahoma. 

Conclusion: Avoid this pile of trash UNLESS all of the following factors apply: (a) you are a New Mexico resident; (b) you truly wish to practice law in the State of New Mexico; (c) you can live at home for the full three years; and (d) you don’t mind that your best outcome will be as a prosecutor, in state government, or as a small law practitioner. Otherwise, you are making a terrible financial decision. If your “dream” is to be a lawyer, then I suggest you grow up – and quit relying on unrealistic attorney portrays in movies, TV, and books. You cannot represent broke-ass losers and deadbeats, and still drive a new Jaguar or Porsche. Hell, you will be lucky to eat halfway decent or to afford rent, with that garbage clientele. This is especially the case if you incur an additional $120K+ in NON-DISCHARGEABLE debt.

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