Posted by Edmund R. Folsom, Esq.
September 13, 2019
MAINE’S JULY 2019 BAR RESULTS ARE OUT – THE SLIDE CONTINUES.
Maine’s July 2019 bar exam results are out, and the plunge continues. Don’t get me wrong, the July 2019 numbers are a marked improvement over the February 2019, nation-beating low pass rate of 31%. According to the Maine Board of Bar Examiners web site, the official July 2019 pass rate is 52%. Once again, the Board’s official rate is higher than the rate to be gleaned from dividing the number of passers, 67, by the number of applicants listed in the exam’s immediate aftermath, 142. That comparison yields a pass rate of 47%, so a fair number of applicants must have jumped ship at the last minute, cancelled scores, or some such thing, again. And look, a 47% July pass rate would be something to be concerned about, wouldn’t it? But 52% is pretty darned good in comparison, right?
Back when I posted that Maine’s February pass rate was the absolute lowest in the entire U.S.A., even worse than that of perennial last place finisher California, a number of people replied that it might only have been the case because we were dealing with the February exam. Traditionally, February scores are worse than July scores because the February exam has more repeat takers, and repeat takers don’t do as well as first-time takers. Of course, that overlooks that the February bar exam was the February bar exam EVERYWHERE IT WAS ADMINISTERED.
Nationally, some expect July 2019 bar passage rates to rise, given that the July 2019 Multistate Bar Exam mean score rose nearly 1.6 points from the July 2018 mean score. Last year’s overall annual pass rate for Maine — February and July exams combined — was 55%. For 2019, going by the Board’s official pass rates and their official posting of passers (by name in February and by number in July), it appears approximately 173 test takers* finished the Maine bar exam in February and July combined. Of those 173 takers, 81 passed. That’s an overall pass rate of 46.82%, which will probably be rounded up to 47% for the official number. Following are Maine’s overall annual bar passage rates, 2009 through 2019. Observe the ugly trend.
For years 2009-2014, the mean pass rate was 74.666%, the high 88% and the low 68%.
For years 2015-2019, the mean pass rate was 58.8%, the high 68% and the low 47%.
Who’s still in denial?
*Plus or minus 1 or 2 people, depending whether the Board rounded up or down to reach its official February and July pass rates of 31% and 52%, respectively.