The late Jerry Falwell founded Liberty University in 1971. The Liberty University School of Law opened in 2004.
The dean of the law school, Mat Staver, is raving about his school’s success:
“The new results from the Virginia bar pass rate for Liberty University School of Law at 94.44 percent is absolutely phenomenal,” he contends.
That overall score places the law school among the top five in the country, which Staver notes is quite a growth since its beginning. “Most schools struggle to get to 70 percent, and most schools never even break the 80-percent bar pass rates,” he explains.
Let’s look at those claims (which come from the Christian OneNewsNow site, so take that as you will):
Top five in the country? Hardly.
A quick Google search brings up a list of current data for law schools (compiled in the Spring of 2008). A 94.44% success rate for the bar would place the school 23rd in the nation. Hardly in the top five. Top five percent? Possibly. But if that’s the case, that seems like a very convenient word to leave out, don’t you think?
You don’t see Liberty University on that list, though. I’m not sure why… possibly because it’s only provisionally (and not fully) accredited with the American Bar Association.
Staver also said “most schools struggle to get to 70 percent, and most schools never even break the 80-percent bar pass rates.”Not so. In fact, the number of schools on the Internet Legal Research Group list that can boast a 70% pass rate is 169. The number of schools above 80%? 139.
The list also doesn’t include the number of students in each class (which would skew some of the percentages). I suspect Liberty has far fewer law students than many of the schools on the list, though I don’t have data for this.
I have a close friend who just passed the bar exam in Illinois and I showed her the article. I asked her if there was any truth behind what Staver is saying.
Here’s what she said:
Yikes, this scares me. The first thing is when he says the school is in the top five of the country — that can’t be right. You have to look at U.S. World News Rankings, because that is only one factor to determine rank. It is possible it has that percentage only in this category.
Second, you have to look at where the majority of the students are taking the bar. Each state has its own bar passage rate because the bar exam could be easier depending on the state. Also, you can go to that bar association’s website (which will indicate how much you need to pass). IL needed 60% has a safe pass — but this is an “easy state.”
Third, you have to see if it is an ABA (American Bar Association) accredited law school. Most employers and OTHER STATES will NOT admit you to the bar if you graduated from these schools. Also, California has the lowest bar passage rate — but it has the most unaccredited schools in the country.
Fourth, the BEST schools do NOT teach you to pass the bar. They say the fact that you have a high LSAT and got in here means you will pass the bar. In fact, the more “poor” law schools are known as three-year bar review courses…
I checked the U.S. News and World Report list of the best law schools in the country. Liberty University is unranked.
If anyone can shed further light on the matter, go for it.