September 24, 2008

July Bar Passage Rates Up for All Okla. Law Grads

By Marie Price

Graduates of all three Oklahoma law schools improved their bar exam passage rates in July, led by the University of Oklahoma College of Law.

First-time exam takers from OU scored a 97-percent passage rate, compared with 94 percent from the Oklahoma City University School of Law and 93 percent from the University of Tulsa College of Law. Individuals from other states taking the Oklahoma exam for the first time achieved an 89-percent passage rate.

OU law Dean Andrew Coats is pleased with his school's top marks.

"While we know that a sound legal education is a lot more than just the ability to pass bar exams, these exams are the only objective tests of the effectiveness of our educational efforts," Coats said. "We are gratified that the results demonstrate our students are receiving a first-class legal education here at the University of Oklahoma College of Law."

Overall, 94 percent of people taking the Oklahoma bar exam for the first time, including those from out-of-state schools, earned a passing score.

With repeat exam-takers included, the overall passage rate was 91 percent.

In individual categories, overall results were as follows: OU, 97 percent; OCU, 90 percent; TU, 89 percent; and other schools, 77 percent.

In July 2007, 95 percent of first-time OU test-takers passed the bar exam, compared with 94 percent from OCU and 88 percent from TU.

OCU law Dean Lawrence Hellman said the July results reflect well on all three schools.

"They also reflect well on the caliber of those who are being attracted to careers in legal education," Hellman said. "This bodes well for both the profession and society at large."

This year, 339 law graduates took the July bar exam, compared with 112 who sat for the exam in February.

Janet Levit, dean of the TU law school, said the July results show TU students are making continued progress.

"I'm really proud of our students," she said.

Levit said TU students' overall bar passage rate this July was a full 10 percentage points higher than last year, and that TU students who took the February exam finished with the best passage rate in the state: 93 percent for first-timers, with an 89-percent overall passage rate.

The TU dean said students who took advantage of the school's bar- preparation classes scored an even higher passage rate.

"In response to some of our bar-passage rates of previous years that were not as strong, we now offer a semester-long bar-passage program," Levit said.

Levit said the optional fee-free Saturday program offers daylong reviews on each of the multi-state exam topics, as well as group and individualized training on how to write effective essay-question answers. Some students also take commercial bar-exam courses.

"Of those students who do all of that, our bar-passage rate is actually 97 percent," Levit said.

She said those results show how TU faculty and staff came together to attack the problem of strengthening the school's bar- passage rates.

"I think we've done a really great job of that," Levit said.

The admission ceremony for new attorneys is scheduled for Thursday, Sept. 25 in the House of Representatives Chamber in the state Capitol.

Originally published by Marie Price.

(c) 2008 Journal Record - Oklahoma City. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All rights Reserved.