Thursday, September 14, 2017

California “Law Professors” Want the State to Lower the Bar Exam Passage Scores

Social Justice Warrior/"Professor": On September 11, 2017, Stephen Diamond wrote a blog post labeled “Does the California State Bar have a race problem?” Take a look at this portion:

“A recent meeting of the State Bar’s Committee of Bar Examiners (CBE) suggests to me that the California Bar may have a problem with race. That is, its leaders do not understand or are not willing to accept that they are putting up a barrier to minorities who wish to practice law. The evidence of this potential problem is found in the tape of the hearing which you can view here as well as a report prepared by the Bar Association’s staff on the bar exam. 

The CBE chair, Karen Goodman, who readily admits (Min. 48:00) that she is from “Elk Grove” (a small town south of Sacramento that is, ironically, quite racially diverse) and so may not understand the data presented to her, questions whether lowering the “cut score” (the minimum number of points needed to pass) on the bar exam would help improve access to justice. 

Yet, the data presented to the CBE she chairs indicates clearly that lowering the cut score even a modest amount (and still at a level well above that of New York state) would significantly increase the number of minority lawyers in the state. And this would be true in a state bar that remains overwhelmingly white and male and older, despite significant demographic shifts in the state over the last few decades.

The Bar staff report concluded: “…applicants of color pass the [current] bar exam at rates that are disproportionate to those of their white counterparts.This impact, when combined with disproportionately lower numbers of people of color in the pipeline to higher education and law school, has resulted in a pool of licensed attorneys in California that does not reflect the population of the state.” [Emphasis mine]

Apparently, racking up $186,211.94 in non-dischargeable debt is not a large barrier for these minority graduates. Later on, Fake SJW Diamond wrote the following:

“Thus, while we do not know why the cut score is so much higher than needed to meet the primary mandate of the CBE (protection of the public), we do know that by setting it at 144 the Bar has put up a wall over which minority law school graduates have difficulty climbing with the inevitable outcome: a disparate impact on those hopeful new law school graduates. 

(This is likely why the Bar staff recommended three options: leaving the score the same, lowering it slightly to 141 or lowering it further to 139, a point which would still be 6 points higher than New York. Despite the troglodyte nature of the CBE deliberations, the Board of Trustees voted 6-5 to send all three staff options to the Supreme Court, which remains free to accept or reject those, as it has ultimate authority now over the cut score.) 

Goodman and others on the Committee also seem to be ignorant of the actual improving employment data for lawyers in California over the past several years.” [Emphasis mine]

Does anyone with a functioning brain actually believe that this “law professor” cares about the barriers to minorities, in obtaining a law license? Also, where is Diamond's proof that California lawyers are now facing better job prospects? The state has a palpable glut of attorneys - and the cost of living there is ridiculous. For $ome rea$on, Diamond didn’t list outrageous student debt on non-connected JDs as a disparate impact.

Prior Coverage: On August 1, 2017, the ABA Journal published a Stephanie Francis Ward piece entitled “Proposal to lower California bar exam cut score considered.” Read this opening:

“A proposal to set a new interim California bar exam cut score at 1414 from the current 1440 is being considered by the State Bar of California. The proposal is one possibility to come out of standard setting study (PDF) the state bar commissioned. 

The study also proposes making no change to the current cut score, according to a state bar press release.

Traditionally, the cut score was set by the bar exam committee, but in July the California Supreme Court amended the rule, giving it the authority to set the passing score. In February, the court directed the state bar—an administrative arm of the judiciary—to do a series of comprehensive bar exam studies, including cut score review. 

At a committee meeting on Monday in Los Angeles, several law school deans, including Gilbert Holmes of the University of La Verne College of Law, spoke in favor of lowering the cut score.

“People love to say they passed the bar the first time in California. It’s meaningful because it’s graded so hard,” Holmes said in a Courthouse News Service report. “But is that really important?” 

Earlier this year, Holmes was among 20 California law school deans who wrote a letter (PDF) to the California high court, asking for a lower cut score, the Recorder reported at the time… 

Only 43 percent of the applicants who took the July 2016 California bar exam passed, according to the Associated Press. Also, only five of the state’s 21 ABA-accredited law schools had a pass rate of at least 75 percent, the Recorder reported at the time.” [Emphasis mine]

Yes, I’m sure that those deans wrote that letter out of the goodness of their hearts – and not out of blatant $elf-intere$t. These supposed “legal scholars” keep lowering their admissions criteria, and now they want the state to reduce their passing score.

Conclusion: In the final analysis, these “educators” simply want to foist more debt-strapped, marginally competent attorneys onto the general public. This the “honorable profession” in action. They know that many idiots will glady take on $160K in non-dischargeable loans, in exchange for a law license. I expect the politicians in black robes to lower the licensing score in the state. If that happens, then this would help keep several California ABA commodes in business longer.


  1. IF [Steve Diamond's salary is in jeopardy]
    THEN [California Bar has a race problem]
    REPEAT UNTIL [scamblogs go away] OR [law school entrance requirements eased] OR [generous funds from alumni donors received];

  2. I found these two comments to Diamond's article on the Tax Prof Blog:

    It is not the California Bar that is racist, it is the admissions/financial aid model of most law schools. For about a decade law schools have had a financial aid model of giving "merit" scholarships to students with high lsats and gpas so that the school can move up in us news. This meant that people of color who had lower lsats and gpas payed full price while well-off whites and asians got a full or cheaper ride. Law schools ignored this obviously and significant racial impact. People of color paid more so law schools could attract students who had advantages all their lives. Next the law schools started admitting students with lower lsats and gpas to fill their declining classes. Studies had predicted that students with low lsats failed the bar at a much higher rate than those with higher lsats but this didn't figure into the calculation because law schools needed to fill seats. When bar pass rates started plunging law schools blamed it on the test. Many of those who failed the bar were people of color. These students were stuck with heavy debts but no way to pay off the debt. As bar rates continued to plunge schools could no longer blame the bar exam. Potential students became wiser and avoided law school and some law schools closed while others faced severe budget cuts.

    Now some California law schools are facing a bleak future. Whittier is closing and applications and bar pass rates continue to plunge. But law schools have come up with a new solution, Lower the Bar. Law schools hadn't complained about the California cutoff before but now that they are facing further closures and cuts they are.

    What would a lower bar pass rate do for students of color? Well it would let more of them pass the bar. But would it really do anything for them? Are there any jobs for these additional bar passers? Is the discrimination continuing but further down the pipe line. Who will suffer if the additional bar passers can't get jobs? Once again the students of color! If law schools want to lower the bar they need to show that the additional bar passers will get jobs. Otherwise they are discriminating against people of color.

    If law schools want to help students of color I suggest that they eliminate all or most merit scholarships and instead re-route this aid to students based on need. This will help people of color while lowering the bar rate with no new jobs will not.

    Posted by: Debbie

    Debbie's comment is excellent, accurate, and a moral condemnation of how law schools have been functioning as the faculty and administrations scramble to save their jobs.

    Posted by: David

    1. Check out what law "professor" Diane Kleine wrote in response to Debbie on tax prof blog:

      "The University of La Verne College of Law eliminated that discriminatory policy (by which lower-LSAT students subsidize higher-LSAT students) a number of years ago. It can be done. In addition, California law deans have been complaining about California's cut scores for years and years - it is NOT correct to say that it is a recent issue (just recently covered). What Debbie has missed is that if students of color disproportionately require a second attempt at the bar, they miss out on jobs that get filled by those who passed the first time around. There don't need to be MORE jobs to assist students of color (who ultimately pass, after all) - they just need to have equal access to them. Even if the number of unemployed JD holders does not change, the ethnic/racial composition of the employed and unemployed will more fairly reflect the entire group, instead of unemployment being disproportionately concentrated among lawyers of color."

      Per La Verene’s ABA required disclosures:
      31% of 2016 grads were unemployed 10 months after graduation
      11.6% of 2016 grads were employed in part time or short term jobs
      13.7% of 2016 grads obtained FT, LT, BP required jobs
      17.6% of 2016 grads obtained FT, LT, JD “advantage” jobs
      11.8% of the class was unaccounted for

      Needless to say, there does need to be more jobs for students of color and everyone else. Kleine is aware of the abysmal job stats of her school and the other California law schools. Kleine’s flimsy argument sounds more like an ego defense, perhaps rationalization: sure we scammed a lot of students, but now we equally scam whites and people of color. Her indifference to the plight of unemployed students also suggests she has some type of personality disorder. Maybe antisocial or narcissistic.

    2. Are discounts to the more desirable students really discriminatory? It seems obvious that those students have other options and thus may have to be enticed with a discount, unlike the essentially fungible students down below.

    3. Congratulations to La Verne. Now when are the other California law schools going to stop their racially exploitive practices?

    4. La Verne is a racially exploitative practice. It shouldn't be congratulated; it should be shut down.

      According to Law School Transparency (, HALF of last year's graduating class at La Verne is "Non-Employed"—no job at all. Most of the rest are in temporary, part-time, irrelevant, or marginal jobs. Yet the cost of attendance, if fully financed with debt, is $200k.

      La Verne, in other words, is a toilet that no informed person would attend. If there were meaningful accreditation, there would be no La Verne.

  3. Lowering the bar exam score to keep these scoundrels masquerading as law "professors?" Get the fuck outta here with that bullshit. Taxpayers will not go along with the current student loan spigot and increasing default rates. Law schools are all about self-preservation, regardless of whether it hurts the profession or the public? Who do you think will be harmed from a lower bar exam score? The general public of course. Morons/millennial attorneys will fuck up or crawl into a safe space after being triggered by a veteran attorney's perceived microagressions (i.e., due diligence) and watch the public resort to malpractice lawsuits. That charlatan Diamond doesn't give a fuck about Blacks and Hispanics. He ignores that this demographic has the highest default rate and would rather lure in more minority marks to be hoodwinked by the law schools just so he can keep collecting his six figure salary for bleating the same shit year after year with no effort.

    Law school is a scam and that is a well known fact. These professors are "gods" in their minds and keep telling their impressionable marks >ahem< students, that they left a million dollar/partnership track position to pursue the "noble" task of teaching law to the lemmings. In the immortal words of Public Enemy, "DON'T BELIEVE THE HYPE."

  4. So says a law professor with no skin in the proverbial game whatsoever.

    What does it matter to Professor Diamond that an ever increasing number of young lawyers from every racial and ethnic background cannot find a meaningful first job after graduation to obtain the training and mentoring absolutely necessary to actually serve the public as a skilled attorney and counselor at law?

    What does it matter to Professor Diamond that increasing numbers of young lawyers from every racial and ethnic background are barely scraping by on IBR or PAYE because they can't land any paying clients or even non-law jobs?

    What does it matter to Professor Diamond that there are already way too many goddamned lawyers in California and the other forty-nine states?

    People like Diamond need to be flogged in a public square. What good does passing the California bar exam do when it's getting harder and harder to eke out a living as an attorney in one of the most expensive cost of living states in America?

    It's pretty apparent that a law grad's passing of a state bar exam is where a law professor's duty as an attorney/educator ends.

    And let's be really honest about legal education here. Professors like Diamond aren't liable for one of their former students committing malpractice because said student never learned how to effectively try a case. Professors like Diamond aren't liable for one of their former students defaulting on an impossible to repay student loan balance. Law professors like Diamond don't have to accept any responsibility for creating conditions where the oversupply of lawyers is so bad that even long-established and experienced practitioners now struggle to make ends meet because young solos are so desperate that they will take on DWI cases for $250 flat. Law professors just get paid vast sums of borrowed money to churn out more and more soon-to-be unemployed and unemployable law grads.

    It's absolutely sickening that greedy pigs like Professor Diamond are getting paid big money to write their drivel while thousands of law grads can barely afford to pay their rent. Making a bar examination easier to pass in the name of "social justice" is shortsighted at best, and shameless exploitation of an already vulnerable segment of society at worst.

    1. How many recent graduates of his toilet school would Diamond be willing to hire for his defense against criminal charges or for the conduct of a multi-million-dollar civil suit to which he was a party?

  5. The 4-8% of lawyers that "run" the legal field are a very insular, protected estate.

    Allowing in a few more TTT graduates at the bottom rung is really no threat to their position at the front of the great Attorney Centipede.

  6. From the fact that lowering the standard would increase the number of racialized lawyers, it does not follow that the standard should be lowered. There are other important considerations, notably the competence of lawyers. Diamond and his fellow scamsters do not even attempt to show that the lower standard that they recommend would ensure competence. (Even the existing standard does not.)

    And if so many racialized graduates cannot pass the exam, perhaps that is because many of them should not have been admitted to law school in the first place. Diamond and his fellow scamsters do not discuss this issue: they merely assume that anyone admitted to a toilet law school is ipso facto suitable for the legal profession.

  7. Why don't we just let every one who has dreams of being a lawyer into law school. Make 'em write a little 2 page, double spaced essay on why they wanna be a lawyer. Then just let them in. As long as the student loans come in who gives a fuck if they're really qualified to be a lawyer. And so none of the dummies gets upset about being too dumb to pass the bar'zam, make that a lot easier to pass. I mean, we don't want a shortage of lawyers.


    On July 31, 2017, the Orange County Register published an AP article by Sudhin Thanawala, which was entitled “California considers lowering passing score for state bar exam.” Read this portion:

    “The State Bar of California on Monday proposed lowering the minimum score on the most recent licensing exam for attorneys amid an alarming decline in people passing the test, considered one of the toughest in the U.S.

    Staff at the state bar presented the option to the agency’s Committee of Bar Examiners, starting what is expected to be a weekslong review and public comment process likely to generate intense discussion. The California Supreme Court has the final say.

    The proposal would lower the minimum score only for the July exam from 144 to a little over 141 — a seemingly minor reduction, but one that could significantly boost the pass rate. The number was based on a study that determined a range of scores showing the minimum level of competence needed to practice law in California.

    Most states have a minimum passing score of 135 or lower, bar staffers say. The committee also will consider leaving the score as it is.

    The passage rate on California’s July bar exam fell from nearly 62 percent in 2008 to 43 percent in 2016, mirroring a national trend. Modeling forecasts suggest the lower score would have boosted California’s July 2016 pass rate by 8 percent, state bar officials said.

    “When you look at the decline, what that means is you have fewer lawyers in California over time,” said Leah Wilson, the state bar’s chief operating officer. “We know that we have significant numbers of people in this state that have inadequate access to counsel or no access to counsel.”

    Some observers have blamed the falling success rate on a dip in law school applications that has forced institutions to accept applicants who have not done as well academically.

    The state bar is studying the caliber and preparation of students in the state’s law schools. The passing score proposal was limited to the 2017 July exam in part to see what that study reveals, Wilson said.

    She said the state Supreme Court may not want to lower the passing score permanently if the conclusion is that the decline in the pass rate is the result solely of a drop in qualified students.
    California had the lowest pass rate in the country by far last year, according to the National Conference of Bar Examiners. The state, however, also had among the highest passing score requirements in the country, and some law school deans say that unfairly penalizes students who would have become lawyers in other states.

    More than a dozen law school deans in California urged the state Supreme Court in February to temporarily reduce the bar exam passing score to between 133 and 136 while the state bar studies the issue. They said there was no evidence that the state’s higher minimum score produced better lawyers.”

    For $ome rea$on, the deans want the passing score lowered significantly. Hell, I’m surprised they don’t demand that graduates of ABA-accredited schools in California should simply be waived into admission.

    1. One does not address "inadequate access to counsel or no access to counsel" by licensing hordes of lousy people. People want, or at least need, access to good counsel, not just any old shit. Anyway, the much-vaunted Vast Unmet Demand for Lawyers arises not from a lack of lawyers but from a lack of money with which to pay them. Licensing more "lawyers" who cannot spell law will not address that issue in the slightest.

      "The state, however, also had among the highest passing score requirements in the country, and some law school deans say that unfairly penalizes students who would have become lawyers in other states": In other words, let's have a race to the bottom.

      "temporarily reduce the bar exam passing score to between 133 and 136": Of course, any such change made "temporarily" would really become permanent. "People in 2018 got to pass with only a 133. It wouldn't be fair to raise the score to 144 in 2019."

    2. 136 is a recent national average, from 2015, I think.

      More recent national averages have gone down to 134.

  9. This opinion piece had a few interesting points about law schools these days. A South Dakota state senator wrote an opinion piece about a proposal to move the state’s law school.

    The Senator noted that “the law school will face significant operating deficits in the foreseeable future.”

    This is ultimately why the California law school toilets are griping about the bar exam. The law schools are losing money. Bar passage rates have plummeted because they admitted anyone with a pulse to keep the student loan money flowing. The low bar passage rates place the schools at risk of sanction and harm the reputation of the flagship universities. The professors and deans do not want to be shut down like Whittier. They want to maintain their six figure jobs.

    The Senator also discussed a related tired old argument from the pigs related to geography. The Senator said, “the task force heard testimony...that the Law School should move [from Vermillion to Sioux Falls] so [employers in Sioux Falls] could hire more of the graduates.” We heard a similar argument from lunatic Steve Diamond that Whittier served the Orange county legal market. The same argument was made about Charlotte law sewer. We hear similar arguments from other toilets that they are so important because they serve some niche market.

    Big law firms in New York city hire law school grads from Harvard (located in Boston), Penn (located in Philadelphia), the University of Chicago, and other law schools that are nowhere near New York. These employers have no trouble connecting with grads who live out of state. Why are employers in Sioux Falls having so much trouble connecting with law grads at the flagship state school? Why can’t these Sioux Falls employers hire any of the unemployed law grads around the country? In fact, just about every state school is located far from a state’s metropolitan area. Yet large employers have no trouble hiring undergrads and other professional students.

    The pigs at South Dakota want to move to Sioux Falls so a fancy new building can be built that may attract a few more lemmings. Pigs that seek to open new law schools to serve a niche market merely want to profit off of the student loan gravy train. For the love of God law school swine, get a real job.

    1. The law skule at the University of South Dakota is a toilet on a par with La Verne, defunct Whittier, and other bottom-end toilet schools. Last year only 52 first-year students enrolled. LSAT scores for the most part are in the 140s.

      The toilet should not be moved an hour away to Sioux Falls; instead, it should be shut down. South Dakota doesn't need a law school. Nor does North Dakota. Nor Nebraska. Nor Montana and Wyoming. One each in Colorado and Minnesota, and just maybe Iowa, should suffice for that entire region.

  10. The biggest problem is the oversupply of people graduating from law school and the existing oversupply of lawyers over jobs. We have 1.31 million licensed lawyers and only 620,000 establishment -based lawyer jobs. There may be another 160,000 "self-employed" lawyer jobs that pay on average in the $53,000 range, or in any event significantly less than an establishment lawyer job, and another few thousand judgeships.

    You already have about twice as many licensed lawyers as jobs in the US. In that context, there is no reason to reduce the California bar exam cutoff. California needs fewer, not more new lawyers.

    The problem here is the American Bar Association's fraudulent claims that "antitrust" requires severe lawyer oversupply, and severe and increasing lawyer unemployment and underemployment. Two lawyers for every lawyer job is not enough competition - the antitrust laws require starving desperate lawyers. May it is 5 lawyers for every job or maybe an even less favorable ratio.

    The fix to this is for the ABA to start pressuring law schools to limit enrollment drastically for supply to come closer to demand. The ABA needs to work with the Justice Department and the Education Department to ratchet down law school enrollment to a point where there are few enough lawyers coming out of law school that at least 7/8s of lawyers will be able to work a full 35 - 40 year career. That number comes from licensed doctors -the ratio of licensed doctors to doctor jobs in the US.

    So if you have 780,000 lawyer jobs, and let each lawyer work 38 years, you have just over 20,000 lawyers needed in each graduating class. Assuming 1/8 of these lawyers will not be working at any given time, you have about 24,000 spots for newly minted lawyers.

    Graduating any more than that takes away jobs from established lawyers, because there are not enough lawyer jobs.

    If you actually look at this taking out the terribly low paid
    self-employed jobs, you need to go down to 640,000/ 38 or under 17,000 graduates a year for all lawyers to actually get jobs, with things like health insurance and retirement benefits, as opposed to marginal catch it as you can self employed work.

    The ABA's credo that there is an antitrust problem limiting lawyer supply is completely specious and does severe damage to a slice of the American population numbering 1.3 million people. Many of these people are going to be out of work or underemployed and struggling throughout their careers because of the ABA's die hard credo of graduating lawyers who are going to spend a lifetime struggling against unemployment and underemployment.

  11. What's the big deal about people failing the bar exam? Owing $200K in student loans means you're fucked no matter if you have a license or not.

    1. Yep. Embrace the suck now, embrace the suck later.

    2. I'd say the big deal comes down to professional standards.

      Not that the scumbags at the ABA will do anything about a law school that can't maintain a minimum bar passage rate (e.g. Charlotte Law), but a bona fide professional regulatory agency would insure that crappy law schools would be shut down in both the interest of protecting the public from incompetent lawyers and protecting gullible students from throwing away their financial future on a worthless law degree.

      Granted, law isn't worthy of being called a profession anymore. But a good start at regaining some sort of credibility with the public at large would be to actually insuring some sort of standard above stealing client money would be a good start.


    On July 31, 2017, San Francisco CBS affiliate KPIX Channel 5 re-posted an Associated Press story labeled “Decline In Aspiring Lawyers Passing California Bar Exam Prompts Score Reset.” Here is the full text below:

    “The State Bar of California is proposing lowering the minimum score on the most recent licensing exam for attorneys amid an alarming decline in people passing the test considered one of the toughest in the U.S.

    State Bar staff said they planned to present the option to the agency’s Committee of Bar Examiners on Monday.

    The proposal would lower the score needed only for the July exam from 144 to a little over 141. The seemingly minor reduction could significantly boost the pass rate.

    On the July exam, it fell from nearly 62 percent in 2008 to 43 percent in 2016, mirroring a national trend.

    California has among the lowest pass rates in the country, though state bar officials say it also has the second-highest passing score requirement.”

    Wouldn’t it be nice to see a headline to the effect of “Decline in quality of law students and graduates leads directly to lower bar passage rates”? For $ome rea$on, the “professors” and deans at ABA-accredited diploma mills in California are not complaining about their own pathetic admi$$ion$ standards. Then again, they recognize that they need to keep their classrooms full – in order to keep getting their hooves on large bags of federal student loan dollars.

  13. Isn't La Verne a fourth tier shithole? So who cares if they have a 'diverse' student body? Those brown and black kids have no connections and no money. That means they face shit job prospects.

    1. * No connections
      * No money
      * Terrible job market
      * Bottom-of-the-barrel sixth-tier toilet school
      * … from which half of the graduates are unemployed
      * … and most if not all of the rest are in temporary, part-time, or otherwise marginal employment (not even a single clerkship or job in government)
      * … and where almost everyone pays full tuition
      * … resulting in $200k in debt if the full cost of attendance is financed with student loans

      How can that possibly turn out well? Wake the hell up, people!

    2. The scam was, is, and will always be about making $$$ for the profs/deans; it was never about access to legal services or getting more minority representation in the bar or any other noble sounding baloney. It's about the cash, period full stop.

  14. The reason California law schools want to lower the bar passage rate must be because of the latest, and greatest amazing news from Simkovic! Although the law earnings premiums are higher for whites than minorities, minorities still “derive greater financial benefits from their law degrees compared to a terminal bachelor’s than the costs of those law degrees.” The median annual law earnings premium is approximately $41,000 for whites, $34,000 for Asians, $33,000 for blacks, and $28,000 for Hispanics. Consider that “a $20,000 annual earnings premium translated into a present value of lifetime earnings premiums as of the start of law school of slightly less than $400,0000, after taking into account foregone earnings but before taxes or tuition. By comparison, “the most expensive law degrees in the United States at full tuition cost $200,000.” Thus, in conclusion, “attending law school is generally a better financial decision than terminating education with a bachelor’s degree”!
    Simkovic is such an expert on the value of a law degree, his latest paper opens with several citations to his previous work. For example, he cites his past work when noting in the introduction that “[t]he law earnings premium has exceeded the cost of law school by a wide margin, even toward the bottom of the earnings distribution, and even for graduates who enter the labor force during a recession or with an unusually large cohort of fellow law graduates.”
    The results are clear, the best time to go to law school is now. Is Cooley still accepting students for the fall? Whether law schools churn out 50,000 grads, whether there is a recession, whether you go to Charlotte Law Sewer or Cooley, or even if you are a minority student, you will make bank with a JD!
    Hard to believe that several law schools have closed. The selfish Whittier law alumni would rather spend their extra million dollars on mansions, pools, and BMWs rather than giving a little back to save their school and give the next generation the opportunity to get rich.


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