Not enough Vermont Law School grads are passing the bar exam

The Vermont Law and Graduate School’s bar exam passage rate does not meet the required level of 75%, the American Bar Association said this week. File photo by Glenn Russell/VTDigger

Too many graduates of Vermont Law and Graduate School are failing the bar exam, the American Bar Association said this week.

under ABA rules, 75% of law school graduates who attempt the bar exam must pass it within two years in order for their alma mater to maintain its accreditation.

But the newly renamed Vermont Law and Graduate School’s most recent two-year bar passage rate was just shy of 68%.

Of the school’s 114 law students who graduated in 2019, only 77 had passed the bar by 2021, according to data submitted to the ABA.

On Tuesday, ABA officials posted notice that Vermont Law School was one of three schools that were out of compliance with bar passage requirements.

The school must submit a report to the organization by February and could be required to attend a hearing in May.

In an emailed statement, the Vermont Law and Graduate School said that it was “surprised and disappointed” about the drop in passage rates and that it has met the Bar Association’s standard for every year other than 2019. The school expects to meet the passage rates for 2020 graduates.

“Even though 2019 appeared to be an anomaly, we treated it as if it were not, and immediately implemented measures to assist graduates who were unsuccessful at the bar; we made curricular changes, dedicated resources to our Academic Success program and teaching practices, and reviewed our admissions policies and procedures,” the school said.

The program’s 2018 law school graduates had a two-year bar passage rate of nearly 83%.

US law schools are granted accreditation by the Council of the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar, an ABA body.

Schools that do not meet the required 75% bar passage rate generally have two years to come back into compliance before their accreditation is revoked. Schools that can “establish extraordinary circumstances” may be given more time, according to the ABA.

The move was earlier reported by Reuters.

The South Royalton-based institution recently rebranded itself the Vermont Law and Graduate School and added a slate of master’s degree programs. As of June, the school had about 600 total students, including 150 online-only students.

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