The California Supreme Court decided to keep the passing score for the Bar Exam at 1440, the second highest in the nation. The review was prompted in large part by the steady decline in the Bar pass in recent years. The pass rate for the 2016 July Bar Exam (which most new law graduate take) stood at about 43%, compared to 55-60% in earlier years.
As is well-known, California has the lowest bar passage rate in the country. Of all the 50 states, Nebraska’s was the highest nationwide, at almost twice that for last July’s Bar Exam, 82%. For comparison, other states’ bar passage rate for last July’s exam: New York – 64%, Florida – 59%, Texas – 71%, Illinois – 72%, Massachusetts – 71%, Pennsylvania – 69%, Virginia – 73%, Washington – 70%, New Jersey – 65%, Georgia – 66%. (The only jurisdiction that had a 100% pass rate was the Northern Mariana Islands, but it is not a state and only had 2 persons take the exam last July.)
Clearly, many lawyers who are unable to meet the requirements in California would have passed the bar exam in other jurisdictions.
For a complete listing of bar passage rates across the country, see the National Committee of Bar Examiner’s report for 2016.