Touro Jacob D. Fuchsberg Law Center in Central Islip.

Touro Jacob D. Fuchsberg Law Center in Central Islip. Credit: Photo by James Carbone

Touro Law Center officials are working on improvements to the school's law program after more than half of the graduates who took the July bar exam failed, according to a letter sent by the school’s dean to alumni.

The pass rate for Touro graduates who took the state bar exam for the first time was 48.6 percent, Harry Ballan, a law professor and dean of the Touro College Jacob D. Fuchsberg Law Center in Central Islip, wrote in an Oct. 24 letter to alumni.

“This is not acceptable,” Ballan wrote in the letter provided to Newsday by the college. “The faculty and I have begun to implement extensive reforms involving changes in the classroom, curriculum and culture of the school. We expect these changes to be reflected favorably in future results.”

Touro had 105 candidates take the exam for the first time, according to the college.

Officials from the approximately 500-plus student law school declined to comment on the score and efforts being undertaken.

The passing rate for the 5,497 graduates of American Bar Association-accredited law schools that took the exam for the first time in July was 83 percent, according to data released Oct. 23 by the New York State Board of Law Examiners. And 81 percent of graduates from New York ABA schools passed the exam, according to a news release.

The state exam is typically given in July and February, and the passage rate of first-time test takers is used as a standard for accreditation purposes. The New York State Board of Law Examiners provides passage rates by institution to the individual schools, but does not release them publicly.

The Touro Law Center and Hofstra Law are the two law schools on the Island, both of which are accredited by the ABA.

Hofstra had 187 first-time takers take the state bar exam in July, with a passage rate of 62 percent, according to the university. Of the 196 first-time candidates who took the July 2017 exam, 70.4 passed, according to a report published by the news website Above the Law.

“As dean, my leadership approach is to think in terms of a multiyear strategic plan, and one of my very highest priorities remains to increase and maintain the bar passage rate,” Judge Gail Prudenti, dean of the Maurice A. Deane School of Law at Hofstra, said in an emailed statement.

Touro’s July passage rate dropped 16.2 percentage points, from the 64.8 percent of 108 first-time candidates who took the exam in July 2017, according to the Above the Law report.

“We will be re-examining in detail everything we do, in and outside of the classroom, to investigate the causes of these results and to assure that the continued implementation of reforms, from evidence-based teaching to curricular reform, is successful,” Ballan wrote. “We will continue to work relentlessly for the success of our students. We own it; we’ll fix it.”

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