Florida raises bar over quality fears

The Florida Supreme Court has raised the qualification standard for passing the state bar exams to avoid its new lawyers falling below minimum competency standards.

The decision was made on the basis that the pass mark was set more than 20 years ago and is now too low.

The court reviewed the grade following requests by the Florida Bar Examiners, and concluded: The people of Florida would be placed at risk if we fail to approve the higher standard.

The decision was taken despite the fact that the percentage of students to have failed the exam at their first attempt has more than doubled in the past 10 years, from 11 per cent in 1994 to 24 per cent in 2003.

The move, which is also being considered by a number of other states, including New York, has opened old wounds as to whether bar exams are the best way of assessing a lawyers competency to practise and that raising the pass mark would disproportionatelyharm minority applicants.