Metropolitan News-Enterprise


Tuesday, November 21, 2006


Page 1


Pass Rate on July California Bar Exam Reaches Five-Year High




The pass rate on the July 2006 general California bar exam was 51.8  percent, the highest in five years, the State Bar has reported. 

The Committee of Bar Examiners, in a report issued late Friday, said that a total of 8,908 applicants—about 600 more than last year—took the test and 4,616 passed.

The pass rate last year, was 48.8 percent, up from 48.2 percent in 2004, which was the lowest rate for the summer examination in at least 18 years. The pass rate for 2003 was 49.4 percent; the last year in which a majority passed was 2002, when 50.5 percent achieved the required scores.

The 2001 pass rate was 56 percent.

The test is given twice each year to law school graduates and a handful of others who are eligible to sit for the test. The full pass list appeared in a supplement to yesterday’s MetNews and is now available on the State Bar’s website at

Past Rates

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, which will be held in various locations around the state, or may 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 are typically much lower for applicants who have taken the test before and higher for first-timers.

Of the 6,261 first-time applicants who took the exam last summer, 67  percent passed, compared to 63.7 percent last year and 62 percent the year before. Of the 2,647 repeaters, 15 percent passed, up from 12.7 percent last year although less than the 16.6 percent who passed on a repeat try in 2004.

The pass rates continue to be highest for students from law schools approved by the American Bar Association. Rates were 74 percent for first-timers who went to ABA-approved schools in California, 68 percent for graduates of ABA schools in other states, 31 percent for graduates of non-ABA-approved schools that are accredited by the Committee of Bar Examiners, and 12 percent for applicants from unaccredited schools.

All of those figures are higher than last year.

Lawyer Applicants

Nineteen percent of repeat test-takers from in-state ABA-approved schools passed, compared with 17 percent of out-of-state applicants from such schools, seven percent from non-ABA schools accredited in California, and five percent from unaccredited schools.  All of those figures are close or identical to last year’s numbers.

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, 114 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.

Three hundred nineteen lawyers took that exam this year, for a passage rate of 35.7 percent, up from 28.3 percent last year.


Copyright 2006, Metropolitan News Company