Resources for Law School Deans on Race and the Bar Exam

Curated by
Brian Gallini, Dean, Willamette University College of Law
Elizabeth Kronk Warner, Dean, S.J. Quinney College of Law

News Stories & Editorials

Ayanna Alexander, Racial Gaps in Bar Passage Force Reckoning with Legal Education, U.S.L.W. (June 23, 2021)

Laura Brown, Commentary, Should State’s Bar Exam Go Away?, Minn. Law. (Oct. 13, 2021)

Brian R. Gallini, Rethinking the Bar Exam for Good, U.S.L.W. (Apr. 27, 2021)

Deborah Jones Merritt et al., Racial Disparities in Bar Exam Results—Causes and Remedies, U.S.L.W. (July 20, 2021)

Joseline Jean-Louis Hardrick, The Bar Exam Is a Barrier to Access for Legal Services and Access to Justice for Many, Above the Law (Dec. 2, 2021)

Sarah J. Schendel, Legal Profession Can’t Leave Black Graduates Behind, U.S.L.W. (May 10, 2021)

Sam Skolnik, Bar Exam Race Gap Shown in New Passage Rate Data for Law Grads, U.S.L.W. (June 22, 2021)

Sam Skolnik, Bar Exams May Soon Be Easier to Pass, as States Eye Changes, U.S.L.W. (Mar. 29, 2021)

Sam Skolnik, ‘Serious Reexamination’ of Bar Exam Looms as Grads Sit for Test, U.S.L.W. (Oct. 6, 2020)

Karen Sloan, Racial Disparities on the Bar Exam Have Persisted for Decades. Does the Legal Profession Care?, Law.Com, June 24, 2021

Valerie Strauss, Why This Pandemic Is a Good Time to Stop Forcing Prospective Lawyers to Take Bar Exams, Wash. Post, July 13, 2020

Oday Yousif Jr., The Bar Exam Is Stained with Inequality and Racism. It Needs To Be Abolished, San Diego Trib., Dec. 8, 2020



Am. Bar Assoc., Legal Ed. & Admissions to the Bar, Summary Bar Pass Data: Race, Ethnicity, and Gender (July 2021)

State Bar of Cal., Cal. Bar Exam Statistics,

Law articles have noted that California has some of the most complete demographic information for bar passage rates as they include passage rates broken down by race and ethnicity for each test administration.

Chad W. Buckendahl, Conducting a Content Validation Study for the California Bar Exam: Final Report (2017)

Stephen P. Klein & Roger Bolus, Tex. Bd. of Law Exam’rs, Analysis of July 2004 Texas Bar Exam by Gender and Racial/Ethnic Group (2004)

Andrew Mroch et al., Nat’l Conf. of Bar Examiners, Impact of the Increase in the Passing Score on the New York Bar Examination: February 2006 Bar Administration (2007)

New York State Board of Law Examiners & AccessLex Institute, Analyzing First-Time Bar Exam Passage on the UBE in New York State (May 2021),

Research Department, Nat’l Conf. of Bar Examiners, Impact of Adoption of the Uniform Bar Examination in New York (2019)

Linda F. Wightman, Lsac, Lsac National Longitudinal Bar Pass Study (1998),


Law Reviews & Journals

Nicci Arete, Comment, The Bar Exam’s Contribution to Systemic Inequalities in Access to Justice Around the World, 30 Wash. Int’l L.J. 324 (2021)

Stephanie Y. Brown, Law Teaching and Social Justice: Teaching Until the Change Comes, 25 J. Civ. Rts. & Econ. Dev. 195 (2011)

Benjamin Afton Cavanaugh, Testing Privilege: Coaching Bar Takers Towards “Minimum Competency” During the 2020 Pandemic, 23 Scholar 357, 408 (2021)

Christina Shu Jien Chong, Battling Biases: How Can Diverse Students Overcome Test Bias on the Multistate Bar Examination, 18 U. Md. L.J. Race, Religion, Gender & Class 31 (2018).

Jane E. Cross, The Bar Examination in Black and White: The Black-White Bar Passage Gap and the Implications for Minority Admissions to the Legal Profession, 18 Nat’l Black L.J. 63 (2004-2005)

Andrea A. Curcio, Carol L. Chomsky, Eileen Kaufman, Testing, Diversity, and Merit: A Reply to Dan Subotnik and Others, 9 U. Mass. L. Rev. 206 (2014)

Linda E. Dávila, The Underrepresentation of Hispanic Attorneys in Corporate Law Firms, 39 Stan. L. Rev. 1403 (1987)

Maurice Emsellem, Racial and Ethnic Barriers to the Legal Profession: The Case Against the Bar Examination, 61 N.Y. St. B.J. 42 (1989)

Amy N. Farley, Christopher M. Swoboda , Joel Chanvisanuruk , Keanen M. McKinley, Alicia Boards & Courtney Gilday, A Deeper Look at Bar Success: The Relationship between Law Student Success, Academic Performance, and Student Characteristics, 16 J. Empirical Legal Stud. 605 (2019)

Kristin Booth Glen, When and Where We Enter: Rethinking Admission to the Legal Profession, 102 Colum. L. Rev. 1696 (2002)

David A. Green, Shhh!!!! Can You Keep A Secret? A Cultural Bias Against Disclosing A Mental Disability & Its Impact on Seeking Reasonable Accommodations for the Bar Exam, 26 Tex. Hisp. J. L. & Pol’y 1 (2020)

Rachel L. Gregory, Current Development, Florida’s Bar Exam: Ensuring Racial Disparity, Not Competence, 18 Geo. J. Legal Ethics 771 (2005)

Dannye Hollen & Thomas Kleven, Minorities and the Legal Profession: Current Platitudes, Current Barriers, 12 T. Marshall L. Rev. 299 (1987)

Joan W. Howarth, The Case for a Uniform Cut Score, 42 J. Legal Prof. 69 (2017)

Joan W. Howarth, The Professional Responsibility Case for Valid and Nondiscriminatory Bar Exams, 33 Geo. J. Legal Ethics 931, 952 (2020)

Joan W. Howarth & Judith Welch Wegner, Ringing Changes: Systems Thinking About Legal Licensing, 13 FIU L. Rev. 383 (2019)

Cecil J. Hunt, II, Guests in Another’s House: An Analysis of Racially Disparate Bar Performance, 23 Fla. St. U.L. Rev. 721 (1996)

Linda Jellum & Emmeline Paulette Reeves, Cool Data On a Hot Issue: Empirical Evidence That a Law School Bar Support Program Enhances Bar Performance, 5 Nev. L.J. 646 (2005)

Alex M. Johnson, Jr, Knots in the Pipeline For Perspective Lawyers of Color: The LSAT Is Not the Problem and Affirmative Action Is Not the Answer, 24 Stan. L. & Pol’y Rev. 379 (2013)

Keith A. Kaufman, V. Holland LaSalle-Ricci, Carol R. Glass & Diane B. Arnkoff, Passing the Bar Exam: Psychological, Educational, and Demographic Predictors of Success, 57 J. Legal Educ. 205 (2007)

William C. Kidder, The Bar Examination and the Dream Deferred: A Critical Analysis of the MBE, Social Closure, and Racial and Ethnic Stratification, 29 Law & Soc. Inquiry 547 (2004)

Stephen Klein, Disparities in Bar Exam Passing Rates Among Racial/Ethnic Groups: Their Size, Source, and Implications, 16 T. Marshall L. Rev. 517 (1991)

Stephen P. Klein & Roger Bolus, The Size and Source of Differences in Bar Exam Passing Rates Among Racial and Ethnic Groups, 6 B. Exam’r 8 (Nov. 1997)

Russel A. McClain, Helping Our Students Reach Their Full Potential: The Insidious Consequences of Stereotype Threat, 17 Rutgers Race & L. Rev. 1 (2016)

Deborah J. Merritt, Lowell L. Hargens & Barbara F. Reskin, Raising the Bar: A Social Science Critique of Recent Increases to Passing Scores on the Bar Exam, 69 U. Cin. L. Rev. 929 (2001)

Jacqueline M. O’Bryant & Katharine Traylor Schaffzin, First-Generation Students in Law School: A Proven Success Model, 70 Ark. L. Rev. 913 (2018)

Henry Ramsey, Jr., Symposium, National Conference on Minority Bar Passage: Bridging the Gap Between Theory and Practice, 16 T. Marshall L. Rev. 419 (1991)

Report of the Oregon Supreme Court Task Force on Racial/Ethnic Issues in the Judicial System, 73 Or. L. Rev. 823 (1994)

Douglas R. Ripkey & Susan M. Case, A National Look at MBE Performance Differences Among Ethnic Groups, B. Exam’r 21 (Aug. 2007)

Cassandra Burke Robertson, How Should We License Lawyers?, 89 Fordham L. Rev. 1295 (2021)

Sarah J. Schendel, Listen!: Amplifying the Experiences of Black Law School Graduates in 2020, 100 Neb. L. Rev. 73 (2021)

George B. Shepherd, No African-American Lawyers Allowed: The Inefficient Racism of the ABA’s Accreditation of Law Schools, 53 J. Legal Educ. 103 (2003)

Society of American Law Teachers Statement on the Bar Exam, 52 J. Legal Educ. 446 (2002)

Dan Subotnik, Does Testing = Race Discrimination?: Ricci, the Bar Exam, the LSAT, and the Challenge to Learning, 8 U. Mass. L. Rev. 332 (2013)

Kia H. Vernon, Representation in Representation: How the Path to End Racial Injustice Begins with the Legal Academy, 43 N.C. Cent. L. Rev. 136, 153-54 (2021)

Eli Wald, A Primer on Diversity, Discrimination, and Equality in the Legal Profession or Who is Responsible for Pursuing Diversity and Why, 24 Geo. J. Legal Ethics 1079 (2011)

Ashley Yull, The Impact of Race and Socioeconomic Status on Access to Accommodations in Post-Secondary Education, 23 Am. U. J. Gender, Soc. Pol’y & L. 353, 364-65 (2015)