California considers lower bar for its tough lawyer exam | Nation – Alabama News

California considers lower bar for its tough lawyer exam | Nation – Alabama News

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The State Bar of California on Monday proposed lowering the minimum score on the most recent licensing exam for attorneys amid an alarming decline in people passing the test, considered one of the toughest in the U.S.

Staff at the state bar presented the option to the agency’s Committee of Bar Examiners, which voted to gather public comment until Aug. 25. A final decision on the score would be up to the California Supreme Court.

The proposal would lower the minimum score only for the July 2017 exam from 144 to a little over 141 — a seemingly minor reduction, but one that could significantly boost the pass rate.

That exam was administered last week, and the results will be out in November.

The reduced minimum score was based on a study that determined a range of scores showing the minimum level of competence needed to practice law in California.

Most states have a minimum passing score of 135 or lower, bar staffers say. The committee also voted to seek public comment on leaving the score as it is.

The passage rate on California’s July bar exam fell from nearly 62 percent in 2008 to 43 percent in 2016, mirroring a national trend. Modeling forecasts suggest the lower score would have boosted California’s July 2016 pass rate by 8 percent, state bar officials said.

“When you look at the decline, what that means is you have fewer lawyers in California over time,” said Leah Wilson, the state bar’s chief operating officer. “We know that we have significant numbers of people in this state that have inadequate access to counsel or…

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