February 14, 2023

Passing the Bar: A Multi-Site, Mixed Methods Investigation of Law Student Success | University of Cincinnati | Grant Outcomes

Academic and Bar Success


Researchers from the University of Cincinnati engaged in a multi-site mixed-methods analysis of indicators of law student success on the bar exam. With funding from an AccessLex Bar Success Research Grant, the research teams’ quantitative analysis demonstrated that, across law schools, early law student grades provide an effective and early means of classifying students at risk of not passing the bar exam. Importantly, this data more effectively identified risk than incoming credentials (e.g., LSAT).  

Researchers then sought to investigate qualitative indicators of bar success through student interviews. Here, student feedback indicated that that the culture of the law school was critical, suggesting that students who passed the bar almost universally reported feeling connected to their law school community. While those who did not pass the bar reported feeling disconnected, out of place, or even marginalized in the community. Further, students reported an almost unquestioned connection to the meritocracy built into the law school system.  

These findings combine to suggest that bar success is complicated by the traditional means of delivering the law school experience.