Thursday, November 20, 2014

The Faculty Lounge: Arthur Frakt's Thoughts on Law School Admissions and the Bar

The first responsibility of a law school is to produce graduates who will be competent lawyers.  That requires passing the bar exam.  The level of difficulty of the exam is, of course, a policy judgment.  A few years ago New York raised the required scores with a differential impact on minority students.  Perhaps it set the requirement above that necessary for competence.

But nonetheless it is not just to take money from people who will not pass that test.  Does the bar exam generally assure a minimum degree of mastery of legal reasoning and a reasonable familiarity with the concepts most commonly used by lawyers.   I would say yes.  

Arthur Frakt is a distinguished legal educator and New Jersey lawyer of he era I wrote about in my history People's Electric - Engaged Legal Education at Rutgers Newark in the 1960's and 1970's.  His post is worth reading.  Click through to the complete original post.  - GWC

The Faculty Lounge: Arthur Frakt's Thoughts on Law School Admissions and the Bar: by David Frakt

"Arthur Frakt's Thoughts on Law School Admissions and the Bar
Introduction:  I often discuss my TFL posts and the comments thereto with my father, Arthur Frakt.  Dad was a long-time faculty member and Associate Dean at Rutgers-Camden before becoming Dean at Loyola LA in the 80s, and Dean of Widener (both Wilmington and Harrisburg) in the 90s before retiring.  He has come out of retirement a couple of times: first, to help start the law school at Drexel, and later, to help Western State overcome its bar passage struggles and get full accreditation.  He continues to follow closely what is going on legal academia.  I asked him if he would be interested in sharing some of his thoughts on The Faculty Lounge, and he graciously offered to do so.   After reading them, I find myself in complete agreement with everything he says.  We both look forward to your comments.  

- David Frakt


 by Arthur Frakt

 In my four decades as a teacher and administrator in legal education,  I was always deeply involved in the admissions process as well as the success of students in passing the bar examination and gaining entry into the profession.  Of course every law school dean must have an interest in how his or her school's students have  performed on the LSAT and succeeded at the bar examination, but I had a deep personal concern stemming from my own experience in law school and my work as the only lawyer in the New Jersey Attorney General's office working full time on civil rights.

I entered Rutgers Law School-Newark in 1961.  At that time the law school world and legal practice generally was the domain of white men. My class of approximately 130 students had three women and one African American male.  They were all excellent students, and while I never heard a racist comment from faculty and classmates, there was a great deal of animosity and insensitivity to the women.  Rutgers was fortunate to have a brilliant black professor, Clyde Ferguson, and an outstanding female professor, Eva Morreale.  Before I graduated, Ruth Bader Ginsburg had joined the faculty.  That was it for women and minorities.

I worked in Civil Rights during a time when discrimination in housing and employment was blatant and very widespread.  When I entered the teaching profession at Rutgers Camden in 1966, I was determined to do whatever I could to change the situation.  Fortunately, at that time of great national upheaval, there were many who felt the same way."

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