Metropolitan News-Enterprise


Tuesday, November 25, 2008


Page 1


State Bar Examination Pass Rate Increases to 61.7 Percent


By a MetNews Staff Writer


The pass rate for the July 2008 general State Bar examination was 61.7 percent, the highest since 2001, the State Bar announced.

The Committee of Bar Examiners, in a report issued late Friday, said that a total of  8,637 applicants—about 500 more than last year—took the test, and 5,330 passed.

The pass rate is the highest since 62.1 percent passed in 1997.

The pass rate on the July 2007 exam was 56.1 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 appears in a supplement to today’s MetNews.

Pass rates are typically much lower for applicants who have taken the test before and higher for first-timers. The State Bar said that 6,257 first-time applicants took the exam last summer and 75 percent passed, compared to first-timer pass rates of 69 percent last year, 67 percent the year before, 63 percent in 2005, and 62 percent in 2004.

Of the 2,380 repeaters—about 200 more than last year—27 percent passed, up from 19 percent last year, 15 percent the year before, and 12.7 percent in 2005.

The pass rates continue to be highest for students from law schools approved by the American Bar Association.

Rates were 83 percent for first-timers who went to ABA-approved schools in California, 75 percent for graduates of ABA schools in other states, 37 percent for graduates of non-ABA-approved schools that are accredited by the Committee of Bar Examiners, and 33 percent for applicants from unaccredited schools.

All are increases over last year.

Repeat Test-Takers

Thirty-five percent of repeat test-takers from in-state ABA-approved schools passed, compared with 28 percent of applicants from such schools in other states, 17 percent from non-ABA schools accredited in California, and 15 percent from unaccredited schools.  All of those figures are higher than last year.

he 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, 154  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 fifty-three lawyers took that exam this year, for a passage rate of 43.6 percent, up from 37.3 percent last year, 35.7 percent in 2006, and 28.3 percent in 2005.

The State Bar noted that some examinees had their scores adjusted because of the earthquake that struck the southern part of the state about 15-20 minutes before the end of the first session of the exam. After consultants working for the examiners concluded that the earthquake appeared to have impacted some of the nine Southern California testing centers differently, the Committee of Bar Examiners adjusted the scores of some examinees based on where they took the exam.

“The Committee believes that the process by which the the scores were adjusted for the July 2008 California Bar Examination is the fairest for all examinees and that it has taken appropriate steps to adjust the scores of those who were impacted by the earthquake,” according to a statement released by the State Bar.

Further Requirements

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.


Copyright 2008, Metropolitan News Company