Michigan Bar Exam Appeals Passage Rate on Steady Decline

Michigan Bar Exam Appeals Passage Rate on Steady Decline

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There has been a lot of disappointment (bordering on anger) in the legal community regarding the recent Michigan bar exam appeals passage rate. You can see for yourself by the chart above (and the numbers below) that the appeals passage rate has been on a steady decline:

Michigan Bar Exam Appeals Passage Rate on Steady Decline

Below, we give you a detailed account from 2012 to 2016 of how many appeals passed, how many bar exam takers there were total, and what schools the bar exam takers were from. We did not have data from every administration, and we have more data from July administrations than February administrations. (If you have any data we are missing, please email us at info@jdadvising.com. We’d love to hear from you!).

You can see that the total number of appeals granted has declined steadily since 2012.

  • July 2012: 20 appeals passed. 529 passed before appeals. 549 passed after appeals. There were 967 takers total. (We do not yet have the data by school.)
  • July 2013: 22 appeals passed. 600 passed before appeals, and 622 passed after appeals. There were 1,007 takers total. (The appeals that passed were from the following schools: 6 from Cooley, 2 from MSU, 5 from UDM, 5 from WSU, 4 from Out of State law schools)
  • July 2014: 14 appeals passed. 604 passed before appeals and 618 passed after appeals. There were 953 takers total. (The appeals that passed were from the following schools: 4 from Cooley, 1 from MSU, 3 from UDM, 3 from WSU, 3 from out of state law schools)
  • February 2015: 10 appeals passed. 303 passed before appeals. 313 passed after appeals. There were 538 takers total. See more here.  (We do not yet have the data by school.)
  • July 2015: 10 appeals passed. 493 passed before appeals. 503 passed after appeals. (The appeals that passed were from the following schools: 1 from Cooley, 2 from MSU, 2 from UDM, 3 from WSU, 2 from out of state schools).
  • February 2016: 5 appeals passed. 318 passed before appeals. 323 passed after appeals. There were 497 takers total. (The appeals that passed were from the following schools: 1 from Cooley, 1 from MSU, 3 from out of state law schools).
  • July 2016. 6 appeals passed. 452 passed before appeals, 458 passed after appeals. 695 takers total. (3 from MSU, 1 from Cooley, 1 from Wayne, 1 from UDM). (We were fortunate enough to write five of the six passing appeals.)

Why is the Michigan bar exam appeals passage rate getting lower?

We do not really know! The Board of Law Examiners’ is definitely getting much stricter with appeals. They also have stopped (at least for the past year) publishing statistics before appeals. This makes it harder for the general public to compare pre-appeals and post-appeals passage rates. (However, schools are still sent pre-appeals and post-appeals statistics, so they are still available—just  harder to find!)

“I go to Cooley. I heard the BLE does not like Cooley. Should I not appeal?” 

If you look at the statistics above—including where students come from—Cooley students are truly not treated much differently than other schools. In July 2015, only 1 Cooley student passed. In February 2016, only 1 Cooley student passed—but no student from UDM, WSU, or U of M passed on appeal! Further, prior to 2015, Cooley had several appeals pass (4 in July 2014, 6 in July 2013).

At least one of the current Board members attended Cooley, so there does not appear to be an outward bias against Cooley.

Does this mean I should not consider an appeal?

We would advise you to approach with caution. This does not necessarily mean that you should not appeal your bar exam score.  We  wrote five of the six passing appeals for the July 2016 administration. We had two 1-pointers pass, a 2-pointer pass, and two 3-pointers pass. So if you need between one and three points, it is still, at the very least, worth considering and carefully analyzing your answers as well as the quality of arguments you could make on appeal.

If you need more than three points, it does not mean you cannot or should not appeal. However, if you are in the latter category, we will, especially after this administration, be much more likely to recommend that you do not appeal.  (This is not to say five point appeals never win. We won a five-point appeal in 2015, and we even received as many as seven points back on an appeal that year. However, this looks like that is getting even rarer than it was.)

There are more factors to weigh though given the lower passage rate—one of them being the likelihood of passing (which looks like it has been going down!). So it is true that more factors may weigh against an appeal than before. It must, as always, be a very careful decision.

IMG_3635-400x267If you have any questions about the appeals process or if you are interested in having us write your appeal, please do not hesitate to contact us at info@jdadvising.com or 248-228-5547. Find more information about our appeals process by clicking here. We are happy to answer any questions you may have. You can also visit our official Heidemann Law Firm Site by clicking here.

 

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