New amendment allows applicants to take the Bar Exam four times and no more.
The Mississippi Supreme Court recently revised the Rules Governing Admission to the Mississippi Bar to allow applicants to take the Bar Exam four times and no more.
The new rule amendment, adopted by the Supreme Court on November 10th, sets a cap of four attempts to pass the Bar Exam and eliminates the provision for remedial classes.
Rule IV, Section 8, says, “Re-Examination in Excess of Four Prohibited. An applicant who has unsuccessfully taken the Mississippi Bar Exam at least four (4) times shall not be eligible for re-examination.”
Under the previous rule, applicants who had three failed attempts to pass the Bar Exam were required to successfully complete 12 course hours at an accredited law school before retaking it.
“Data consistently reflects that first-time test takers are considerably more likely to pass the exam,” the petition stated. “First-time takers who are close to the score line should not fail because their cohort is weighted down by underperforming serial REPEATERS. At the same time, those who perform poorly after several exam attempts have scant practical chance of passing.”
The Mississippi Board of Bar Admissions requested the change in a petition, citing recent lower bar passage rates both in Mississippi and nationwide, in addition to the fact that large numbers of repeat exam takers “adversely and significantly affected pass rates in Mississippi” as reasons for requesting the Rule change.
“The recommendation of a hard four is comparable to other jurisdictions in the United States which generally are in the range of two to four attempts,” the petition said.
Click here to view the Petition to Amend filed by the Board of Bar Admissions.
The state’s two law schools, the University of Mississippi School of Law and Mississippi College School of Law, supported the rule change because among other considerations, it mirrors the ABA accreditation standard of measuring bar passage percentage at two years post-graduation.
The deans of the two law schools expressed their support in a letter attached to the petition.
“The law school deans write today to renew our request for a Four Strike Rule as a replacement for the Three Strikes Rulle. We support limiting the number of attempts that an individual can take the bar exam to four attempts,” the deans said. “As mentioned in our meeting, the current rule’s requirement of an applicant earning an additional 12 credit hours has not been a workable, effective solution to the repeated retaker issue faced by the Mississippi Board of Bar Admissions.”
“The law schools have implemented programs to improve bar passage through early intervention. Since the programs’ implementations, both law schools have seen an increase in first-time bar passage rates,” the deans continued.
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