Bookmark this page on your mobile

QR Code image

What is this?

Daily Court Reporter - News ABA House balks at revising bar passage standard, approves slew of policy resolutions


ABA House balks at revising bar passage standard, approves slew of policy resolutions

The American Bar Association House of Delegates (HOD) rejected Monday (Jan. 28) a major change in the bar passage standard for U.S. law schools, sending back to its originator a proposal that would require 75 percent of a law school’s graduates who sit for the bar pass it within two years.

The HOD, the ABA’s policy-making body which met on the final day of the ABA Midyear Meeting in Las Vegas, voted 88-334 against Resolution 105 after a spirited debate in which six people spoke for each side. The proposed change now returns to the Council of the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar, which also unsuccessfully offered the proposal to the House two years ago.

Barry Currier, managing director for the ABA law school accreditation process, said afterward that under ABA rules and procedures the council now could abandon the effort to revise the standard; propose a different revision; or reaffirm and implement the changes. The council, which is the entity recognized by the U.S. Department of Education to accredit the nation’s 203 ABA-approved law schools, meets again Feb. 21-23 in California.

“The council understands this is a complex matter,” Currier said of the bar passage proposal, affecting Standard 316 of the ABA Standards and Rules of Procedure for the Approval of Law Schools. He added the council “will consider a report on the concerns of the House of Delegates before making any final decision.”

The resolution topped a full agenda of about 30 resolutions, which included matters of gun safety, immigration and a range of more focused law practice related proposals, such as the “fair use” doctrine of copyright law.

The rejection of Standard 316 by the HOD was not unexpected as ABA diversity groups and the Young Lawyers Division, among others, aggressively lobbied against it. After the HOD rejected a similar change in 2017, the council collected and analyzed data showing that nearly 9 of 10 law graduates in 2015 who sat for the bar passed it.

Proponents argued that the data showed the effect on schools would be minimal. Opponents countered that a thorough study should have been undertaken, dismissing the findings of the data analysis.

The council’s intent was to simplify a bar passage standard that has an ultimate bar passage rate that has proven unworkable as an accrediting tool. “In effect, we have no enforceable standard at all,” Rebecca Birch, a former council chair and retired chief justice of the Arizona Supreme Court, said of bar passage Standard 316.

Paulette Brown, a former ABA president and the first African-American woman to hold that position, said the resolution would further complicate efforts to make the legal profession more diverse. She cautioned the change would hurt schools with heavy minority student bodies and the HOD should send a “clear and strong message that we will not idly stand by while they decimate the diversity in the legal profession.”

The HOD also passed Resolution 106A that puts put the ABA on record as opposing laws that authorize teachers, principals or other non-security school personnel to possess a firearm in or nearby a pre-K through high school. The new policy also urges banning public funds for firearms training for teachers, principals or other non-security personnel or for firearm purchases for those individuals.

It also approved two resolutions stemming from recent news. Resolution 10B condemns the shutdowns of the federal government for impairing the legal system, and Resolution 10C opposes both the withholding of congressionally appropriated funds for disaster relief and recovery and diverting these funds for other purposes.

Other approved resolutions include:

Resolution 109A, which urges the U.S. attorney general to rescind the “Zero Tolerance” and “Operation Streamline” policies that mandate the prosecution of all persons alleged to have improperly entered the United States for the first time, a misdemeanor under 8 U.S.C. 1325; end the practice of expedited mass prosecution of immigrants; and allow for an individualized determination in deciding whether to file criminal charges.

Resolution 109B, which asks federal, state, local, territorial and tribal legislatures to define criminal arrests, charges and dispositions that are eligible for expungement or removal from public view by sealing these records; the proposal also sets out a process for individuals to have their criminal records expunged.

Resolution 101B, which recommends enactment of a rule by the highest courts or legislative bodies of all states, territories and tribes charged with the regulation of the legal profession, as well as by all federal courts, providing for a continuance based on parental leave of either the lead attorney or another integrally involved attorney with certain limitations.

Resolution 106B, which urges federal, state, local, territorial and tribal governments to reduce potential harm that individuals may inflict on themselves or others by enacting statutes, rules or regulations allowing individuals to temporarily prevent themselves from purchasing firearms.

Resolution 107A, which calls upon the federal judiciary, Congress and the Department of Homeland Security to enact legislation and adopt policies to protect the privacy interests of those crossing the border by imposing standards for searches and seizures of electronic devices, protection of attorney-client privilege, the work product doctrine and lawyer-client confidentiality.

Resolution 107B, which seeks commitments from legal employers not to require pre-dispute mandatory arbitration of claims of unlawful discrimination, harassment or retaliation based upon race, sex, religion, national origin, ethnicity, disability, age, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, marital status or status as a victim of domestic or sexual violence.

All actions on the proposed resolutions online at:

About the American Bar Association

Founded in 1878, the ABA is committed to advancing the rule of law across the United States and beyond by providing practical resources for legal professionals, law school accreditation, model ethics codes and more.

Date Published: February 14, 2019


American Bar Association


United States and international law enforcement dismantle online organized crime ring operating out of Romania that victimized thousands of U.S. residents

Twelve foreign nationals extradited to the United States

State's highway budget shortfall has Ohio farmers concerned

As the nascent 133rd General Assembly of the Ohio Legislature begins meeting in regular sessions this month, the Ohio Farm Bureau has announced the legislative priorities its members have determined will make the difference in a successful year in agriculture.

Board of Professional Conduct issues 2018 annual report

The Ohio Board of Professional Conduct has issued its 2018 annual report, highlighting the disposition of 83 disciplinary cases, a 30 percent reduction in pending caseload, and continued education and outreach efforts.

ABA partners with Tennessee group on film to raise awareness

The American Bar Association, and its Death Penalty Due Process Review Project, has partnered with the Tennessee Alliance for the Severe Mental Illness Exclusion (TASMIE), on production of a film titled “Too Ill to Execute,” detailing a movement to exclude those with severe mental illness from the death penalty.

Six people indicted for their roles in $48 million health care fraud conspiracy at drug and alcohol rehabilitation centers in Austintown and Whitehall

Six people from Ohio were indicted in federal court for their roles in a health care fraud conspiracy in which Medicaid was billed $48 million for drug and alcohol recovery services which were not provided, not medically necessary, lacked proper documentation, or had other issues that made them ineligible for reimbursement.

ODNR Division of Forestry expands wildfire protection area

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) is pleased to announce the expansion of the ODNR Division of Forestry’s Forest Fire Protection Area. The expanded area includes all parts of the following counties: Adams, Ashland, Ashtabula, Athens, Belmont, Brown, Carroll, Clermont, Columbiana, Coshocton, Fairfield, Fulton, Gallia, Geauga, Guernsey, Harrison, Henry, Highland, Hocking, Holmes, Jackson, Jefferson, Lawrence, Licking, Lucas, Knox, Meigs, Mahoning, Monroe, Morgan, Muskingum, Noble, Perry, Pike, Portage, Richland, Ross, Scioto, Stark, Trumbull, Tuscarawas, Vinton and Washington.

UT research looks at fiber as a trigger and cure for inflammatory bowel disease

New research from The University of Toledo’s College of Medicine and Life Sciences may give patients suffering from inflammatory bowel disease a better roadmap for managing their symptoms by changing the type of fiber they eat during flare-ups.

How a cash-out refinancing loan can turn into a costly mistake

(BPT) After years of making regular mortgage payments, it feels good to watch your net worth make upward progress. That's especially true if your house is also gaining value. With a growing amount of equity comes peace of mind, knowing you have the option of tapping into it when you want.

Texas couple sentenced to prison; they were the most prolific dark net fentanyl vendor in the world at the time of their arrest last year

A San Antonio couple that was the most prolific dark net fentanyl vendor in the world at the time of their arrest last year have been sentenced to prison.

Ohio hunters Harvest more than 172,000 Deer during 2018-2019 season

Hunters checked 172,040 white-tailed deer throughout Ohio’s 2018-2019 deer season, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR). Last year, 186,247 deer were checked during the 2017-2018 season.

ABA TECHSHOW2019 to showcase latest in technology for the legal industry

Elizabeth “Betsy” Ziegler, the first female CEO of 1871, the No. 1 ranked tech incubator in the world, will be the keynote speaker at the American Bar Association ABA TECHSHOW2019 to be held Feb. 27-March 2 at the Hyatt Regency Chicago. Ziegler will speak from 1-2 p.m. on Friday, March 1.

Tackling the high cost of student loan debt

(StatePoint) There’s no way around it: Americans are drowning in student loan debt, collectively owing $1.5 trillion. Rising college costs mean that number isn’t likely to drop much in the next few decades.

'Launch into Law' bridge to the profession program prepares students for the law school application process and experience

The University of Toledo College of Law piloted the 'Launch into Law' bridge to the profession program this spring to increase the number of historically underrepresented students enrolled in law school. The free, weeklong program took place Jan. 7-11, 2019.

Home health care provider sentenced for fraud

The co-owner of Alpha Star Health Care Inc. was sentenced recently in federal court to 18 months in prison for running home health care fraud and tax fraud schemes.

ABA President Carlson defends judiciary, touts lawyer wellness

ABA President Bob Carlson gave a robust defense of the nation’s judiciary to House delegates on Jan. 28 when he said, “we can never stop defending our nation’s courts.”

6 tips for reducing your out-of-pocket medication costs

(BPT) When you're sick, the last thing that you want to worry about is how you're going to pay for your critical medical treatment. Even if you have health insurance, you may find that the prescription drugs you need the most are out of reach due to high out-of-pocket costs - the deductibles, copays or coinsurance that are not reimbursed by insurance. Many people find themselves choosing between paying bills and buying essential prescription medications.

Twelve people indicted for conspiracy to obtain large amounts of cocaine

Twelve people from Mahoning County were indicted for their roles in a conspiracy to obtain large amounts of cocaine, which they sold in and around Youngstown.

Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice gets award for campaign against Issue 1

A leading force in defeating a measure that would have changed the Ohio Constitution received an award for her efforts last fall against Issue 1.

How to recognize and avoid college scholarship scams

(StatePoint) Average college costs have doubled in the last two decades, and this financial pressure along with new technologies makes today’s students particularly vulnerable to financial aid and scholarship scams.

Man sentenced to 15 years in prison for trying to recruit people to launch attacks on behalf of ISIS

Erick Jamal Hendricks, 38, of Charlotte, North Carolina, was sentenced to 15 years in prison for attempting to provide material support to the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS).