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New TX Law School Serves At-Risk Students: How'd They Do on the Bar?

By William Vogeler, Esq. on November 10, 2017 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

The University of North Texas Dallas College of Law tries to help students with lower admission credentials. The college should be applauded, but the bar pass rate was 20 percent lower than the state average. Specifically, 59 percent of its recent graduates passed the bar.

The law school's pass rate continues the debate about whether law schools should lower admission requirements.

"Dead Last"

"Although UNT is to be commended for keeping the cost of law school as low as possible, if over 40 percent of its graduates fail the bar, it's no bargain," posted Florida lawyer David Frakt.

Commenting on The Faculty Lounge, Frakt said the law schoot stumbled on its first bar exam. He also questioned the school's provisional accreditation by the American Bar Association.

"Under great pressure and amid claims that UNT was a new kind of law school with innovative programs designed to ensure that students of modest ability would succeed at greater rates than other law schools, the ABA caved in and granted provisional accreditation to UNT in June 2017, enabling its first class of graduates to take the bar in Texas and other states in July 2017," he wrote.

The "innovative" experiment failed. UNT finished "dead last" among 10 Texas law schools in its first bar exam outing, he said.

Taught to the Bar

Royal Ferguson, founding dean at the UNT law school, told the ABA Journal that the curriculum is designed to help students pass the bar. They have multiple exams, including midterms.

"People can be taught these things in a three-year period," he said. "We have a very mindful program of how important it is to get these students ready to pass the bar -- surely that can make a difference."

The dean recently announced his retirement, but the law school continues to promote its goal to "serve diverse, motivated individuals with potential to be effective lawyers serving the community."

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