How does one measure institutional success? When it comes to law school, many would suggest that simple bar passage rates are the measure by which we should judge legal education. For many years, LSU Law Center students have achieved the highest passage rate among all examinees on the bar exam. And, according to the results released in September 2006 by the Committee on Bar Admissions for the Supreme Court of Louisiana, LSU Law retained its usual first place ranking among all public and private law schools in the July 2006 examination.
All of us are delighted with the high 91% passage rate, and also with the Law Center finishing first in the state—its usual placement. Important as these achievements are, however, the real story lies elsewhere; namely, not only did the 2006 class achieve the highest bar passage rate, but the class of 2006 had a first-year attrition rate of only 6% . . . the lowest flunk-out rate of any class in the Law Center’s 100-year history!
Why is this important? Because it vindicates Chancellor Costonis’ vision that, “It’s not the number of students that we send to hell that determines its excellence, but the number that it sends to heaven.” The Law Center has been transformed into a culture of success, not failure.
Achieving higher bar passage rates by flunking out large numbers of students is much less impressive than doing so with a graduating class of excited, able young lawyers-to-be. Student-faculty relationships flourish. As alumni, these students are delighted to visit their school and to relish and celebrate its progress.
Student and faculty creativity explodes, as reflected in the students’ victories in three National Moot Court competitions last year. The environment for learning and professional growth flourishes.
Hence, the real story behind the story of the Law Center’s 2006 Bar Exam success is the positive transformation of the Law Center’s culture that these achievements reflect.