Metropolitan News-Enterprise


Monday, November 25, 2002


Page 1


State Bar Applicants Post 50.5 Percent Pass Rate


By a MetNews Staff Writer


Barely half of the 7,511 people who took the July 2002 California bar exam passed, the State Bar reported Friday.

The 50.5 percent pass rate is down from last year’s 56.9 percent rate.

If everyone who passed the grueling three-day test satisfies the various other admission requirements, California will soon gain 3,793 new lawyers.

The test is given twice each year to law school graduates and a handful of others who are eligible to sit for the test.

Applicants were mailed test results Friday, and were able to access their own results on the State Bar’s website beginning Friday evening. The full pass list is published in today’s MetNews and is now available on the State Bar’s website at

Passing the exam does not by itself guarantee admission to the bar. Prospective lawyers must also pass a separate professional responsibility exam, receive a positive determination of moral character, and show that they have not been reported by local district attorneys for being in arrears in child support payments.

Successful applicants who meet all of those criteria may attend oath ceremonies around the state scheduled for the first week of December. They may also make private arrangements to be sworn in immediately by a state court judge or commissioner, a Court of Appeal or Supreme Court justice, a notary public, a shorthand court reporter, a member of the Legislature, a county officer or a member of the State Bar Board of Governors.

Applicants in the military may be sworn in by their commanding officers, and applicants in foreign countries may take the oath from the U.S. consul.

Pass rates were typically much lower for applicants who have taken the test before and higher for first-timers.

Of the 5,168 first-time applicants, 64.5 percent passed. Of the 2,343 repeaters, 19.6 percent passed..

The pass rates also continue to be highest for students from law schools approved by the American Bar Association. Rates were 68.5 percent for first-timers who went to ABA-approved schools in California, 66.5 percent for graduates of ABA schools in other states, 29.7 percent for graduates of non-ABA-approved schools that are accredited by the Committee of Bar Examiners, and 20 percent for applicants from unaccredited schools.

Some applicants were not allotted to a law school because more than a year passed between graduation and the exam. Also not included in the statistics are applicants who studied with attorneys or judges and did not attend law schools.

The examination is also administered in late February each year. Fewer applicants, many of whom have previously failed, take that exam and passage rates on it are usually lower.

In addition to the applicants passing the general bar examination, an additional 141 lawyers already admitted to practice in other states passed a two-day version of the test, including the essay and “performance” portion but omitting the multiple-choice Multistate Bar Examination. Lawyers must have actively practiced at least four years in another jurisdiction to take the attorney exam.


Copyright 2002, Metropolitan News Company