USD School of Law Dean Stephen C. Ferruolo Writes about California Supreme Court’s Decision on Bar Examination in San Diego Lawyer

Dean Stephen C. Ferruolo Writes about California Supreme Court’s Decision on Bar Examination in San Diego Lawyer

Dean Stephen C. Ferruolo

San Diego (December 20, 2017) – University of San Diego (USD) School of Law Dean Stephen C. Ferruolo has written about the California Supreme Court’s decision not to change the bar examination cut score in the November/December 2017 issue of the San Diego Lawyer.  

In a ruling issued on October 18, the Court announced that the bar examination pass score would be kept at 1440 (where it has been set since 1987) until further studies were completed.   “Many observers in and outside of the State of California were surprised by the ruling and mystified by the Court’s reasoning (or lack thereof),” Ferruolo writes.

According to Ferruolo, the Court’s ruling failed to address the important policy issues resulting from California having the second highest pass score in the country.  The Court, writes Ferruolo, “ignores compelling data in the Final Report [submitted by the State Bar] of the impact that reducing the cut score to the national median would have on the diversity of the profession and access to justice.” Data submitted to the Court showed that reducing the cut score for the July 2016 bar exam from 1440 to the national median mean of 1350 would have increased the number of Black, Hispanic, and Asian bar passers in California by 113%, 75% and 58%, respectively, compared to 42% for Whites. “A policy that has such a disparate impact on minorities in our state should not be retained when there is no justification other than its having been in place for 30 years,” Ferruolo concludes.

The bar passage rate for first-time takers from ABA accredited California law schools improved to 70% for the July 2017 bar examination from 62% for the July 2016 bar examination.  USD’s bar passage rate improved to 78% for the July 2017 exam compared to 71% in 2016.

Read the full article, entitled “Supreme Court Fails Bar Exam,” online.

About Dean Stephen C. Ferruolo

Stephen Ferruolo was named dean of USD School of Law in 2011. A graduate of Stanford Law School, Ferruolo was in private practice in Silicon Valley and San Diego before joining the USD faculty in August 2011.

About the University of San Diego School of Law

The University of San Diego (USD) School of Law is recognized for the excellence of its faculty, depth of its curriculum, and strength of its clinical programs. Each year, USD educates approximately 800 Juris Doctor and graduate law students from throughout the United States and around the world. The law school is best known for its offerings in the areas of business and corporate law, constitutional law, intellectual property, international and comparative law, public interest and taxation.

USD School of Law is one of the 84 law schools elected to the Order of the Coif, a national honor society for law school graduates. The law school’s faculty is a strong group of outstanding scholars and teachers with national and international reputations and currently ranks 35th nationally and 6th on the West Coast among U.S. law faculties in scholarly impact and 24th nationally and 6th on the West Coast in all-time faculty downloads on the Social Sciences Research Network (SSRN). The school is accredited by the American Bar Association and is a member of the Association of American Law Schools. Founded in 1954, the law school is part of the University of San Diego, a private, independent, Roman Catholic university chartered in 1949.

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