Category Archives: Tennessee Bar Results

February 2019 Tennessee Bar Results: Vanderbilt, Belmont Maintain Top Spots, Nashville School of Law Last Again

By Daniel A. Horwitz:

The Tennessee Board of Law Examiners has released the results of the February 2019 Tennessee bar exam. The exam—which was taken by 289 prospective lawyers—resulted in an overall passage rate of 46.37%. Special shout out to successful exam-taker Kenny Dyer, whose herculean work as the author’s private investigator on the since re-opened Joseph Webster innocence case cannot be overstated.

Individual school statistics were as follows:

Vanderbilt Law School maintained its multi-year grip on the state’s top spot with an overall passage rate of 83.33% (in a recent previous year, Belmont Law School had claimed the mantle). Tennessee’s other accredited law schools registered overall passage rates of 71.43% (Belmont), 51.43% (Memphis), 47.06% (Duncan), and 43.48% (UT).

Bringing up the rear again, Nashville School of Law—which probably could have benefited from competition from a public law school in Middle Tennessee but was recently protected from it—mustered an overall passage rate of just 30.00%. For context, in 2014, Nashville School of Law secured new leadership and pledged to improve its state-worst passage rate of what was then 65-70%.  Since that time, the school has posted overall passage rates of 50% (February 2015), 28% (July 2015), 30% (February 2016), 28% (July 2016), 35% (February 2017), 38% (July 2017), 13% (February 2018), and 42% (July 2018). Whether BLE Member/former Tennessee Supreme Court Justice William Barker’s definitely genuine concern that “I just hate for people to come spend all the time and money and years of their lives with no possibility of passing” will ever result in him taking action against a non-immigrant remains to be seen.

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Tennessee’s February 2016 Bar Results Released: Vanderbilt Reclaims Top Spot, Nashville School of Law Performs Poorly Again

The results of the February 2016 Tennessee bar exam are out.  Following a July 2015 exam that saw Belmont University post the highest passage rate of all Tennessee law schools, Vanderbilt Law School has reclaimed its fairly consistent place on top of the pile with a 92.31% overall passage rate and a 100% passage rate for first-time takers.  Among re-takers, four of five Vanderbilt graduates passed the February 2016 exam, good for an 80% passage rate among those taking the test for a second time or more.

On the other side of the coin, Nashville School of Law registered its second abysmal performance in a row, posting only a 30.08% overall passage rate and a frighteningly low 17.1% passage rate among re-takers.  First-time NSL graduates performed slightly better, however, registering a cumulative passage rate of 47.1%.

Overall, Tennessee’s passage rate for all takers from all law schools combined was just 51.06%, reflecting both a bar exam that has become more difficult in recent years and a decrease in the quality of recent law school graduates.  Driven by a rapid decrease in law school applicants over the past several years (the total number of law school applicants has declined precipitously since 2010, falling from a high of 87,900 to a low of 54,130 in 2015), the academic credentials of incoming law students have measurably decreased.  Controversially, many law schools have responded to this problem (and the corresponding loss of revenue) by decreasing their admissions standards, which has predictably resulted in lower bar passage rates post-graduation.

The complete bar passage results from Tennessee’s February 2016 bar exam, available at the Tennessee Board of Law Examiners’ website, are copied below.

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School Stats

Summary of Stats