Exterior of the Case Western Reserve University law school building

School of Law graduates post best bar-passage rate in Ohio for first-time test-takers

Case Western Reserve’s overhaul of how it prepares law students reaped impressive results this year, as its graduates posted a 93 percent passage rate on Ohio’s July bar examination.

The figure—for first-time test-takers—bested every other law school in the state, with the margin ranging from 6 to 30 percentage points.

Photo of law school Co-Deans Michael Scharf and Jessica Berg
Co-Deans Michael Scharf and Jessica Berg

“Our students’ outstanding performance is first a testament to their intellects and dedication,” Co-Deans Jessica Berg and Michael Scharf said in a statement, “and also to the wisdom and hard work of faculty who updated and enhanced our coursework. Together, they have helped make the school a top destination for students in Ohio and across the country.”

The 2017 graduating class was the first to complete all three years of the revamped curriculum, which dramatically increased hands-on learning opportunities. Experiential education begins in a student’s first year, and continues through to a senior capstone. At the same time, students continue to participate in core foundational classes, whose concepts feature prominently on the bar exam. This integrated approach provides a more rigorous and comprehensive education, the co-deans explained.

In addition, the school launched several initiatives specifically targeted toward improving the bar-passage rate, among them:

  • requiring second- and third-year students to take four of six bar-tested subjects not covered in the first year;
  • having examinations in bar-tested courses be “closed book” so that students become more familiar with the testing conditions of the bar exam; and
  • encouraging faculty teaching bar-tested courses to add mid-term tests and other periodic assessments, rather than only a single final exam.

When this year’s graduates started Case Western Reserve in 2014, the law school’s bar passage rate placed it seventh of nine Ohio institutions. The school climbed to fourth in in 2015, then held that same position the following year.

This year’s first-place position put the school ahead of Ohio State and Ohio Northern universities, which tied for second with 87 percent passage rates among first-time takers.

The state results, released Friday, also report outcomes by school for all test-takers (i.e. those taking the exam for the first, second or third times). For this category, Case Western Reserve and Ohio State tied for first, with passages rates of 87 percent.