Measuring Legal Research Skills on a Bar Examination

by Stephen P. Klein


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Reports on an investigation of whether Multistate Bar Examinations and essay scores in bar examinations were good predictors of how well applicants could perform some of the day-to-day tasks that are required of practicing attorneys. One part of this study involved assessing the relationship between bar exam scores on a test that was designed to measure certain important legal research skills. The study also investigated whether differences in performance level among racial groups on the Research Test paralleled differences among these groups on the bar exam and whether Research Test scores were related to an applicant's legal training and experience. The findings indicate that the inclusion of a Research Test on the bar exam could make a small but important difference in who passes. And, while the use of a Research Test would not narrow the gaps in average performance level among racial groups, neither would it increase the difference among these groups.

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