Archive for ‘Rank’

March 14, 2011

A Forked River Runs Through Law School

by Angela N. Johnson

Timothy Clydesdale examines the differences in race, gender, and age on law school performance and bar passage using Law School Admissions Council data (the Bar Passage Study or “BPS”) which includes a dataset of 27,478 entering law students, along with their grade point averages, LSAT scores, bar examination results (up to five attempts) and of course the race, gender, and age of those individuals.  Having this detailed information allows Clydesdale to reveal how race, gender, or age might impact one’s predisposition for success.  Moreover, by controlling for various factors (which I will explain further in this summary) Clydesdale is able to hypothesize why or why not such predispositions within a given class (race, gender, age) may appear.  For example, once Clydesdale had determined that students over the age of 30 earned inferior grades to those under 30, Clydesdale was able to pinpoint why that might be – that rather than physical age, it is that students over the age of 30 have a greater likelihood to experience life events during the 1L year which hinder the student’s success, restrictions on study time (due to family responsibilities and demands), and a greater chance of being impacted by physical illness.  Nevertheless, there is a “4% gap in passage rates between those bar examinees who began law school at age 30 or older and their younger counterparts” (Clydesdale 2004, 713).  Clydesdale determines that law school grades correspond directly to bar passage rates; so knowing that law students over thirty are more likely to earn lower grades, it is not surprising that this also translates to lower bar passage rates.  Most importantly, Clydesdale sheds light on the disparity between the groups and even the disparity in six-categories of law schools. 

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