Carolina Law Grads Achieve 85 Percent Bar Passage Rate

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Eighty-five percent (85.48) of the 124 UNC School of Law graduates who took the North Carolina bar exam for the first time in July 2017 passed, according to exam results released by the state’s Board of Law Examiners. This rate represents an increase from 77.99 percent of first-time takers who passed last year’s bar exam.

UNC’s total 2017 passage rate, including first-time and repeat takers, was 80.58 percent, which is higher than the past three years.

Excluding Duke, which had 16 first-time takers sit for the exam, UNC had the second-highest passage rate for first-time takers. UNC was slightly behind Wake Forest (89.71 percent), which had 68 first-time takers.

The school’s Academic Excellence Program (AEP) provides all students with resources to aid their legal study, including one-on-one bar preparation for 3L students. The Class of 2017 was the first class to graduate under a formalized academic success policy that empowers more students to receive individualized assistance during the final two years of law school. UNC students also benefit from a rigorous first-year research and writing program in which full-time professors comment regularly on students’ written work in small, workshop-style classes and frequent individual conferences.

“Our 1L writing program likely helped contribute to the success on the essay portion of the exam,” says O.J. Salinas, AEP director and clinical associate professor of law. “Clear, effective writing is important on the essay portion of the bar examination. It will continue to be a significant asset for bar success as North Carolina transitions to the Uniform Bar Examination, which includes a Multistate Performance Test that tests an examinee’s ability to perform practical lawyering skills like writing an objective memorandum or a persuasive trial motion.”

The law school’s Research, Reasoning, Writing and Advocacy (RRWA) program, now in its seventh year as a full-year, six-credit program, ranks No. 18 in legal writing by U.S. News & World Report’s 2018 edition of “America’s Best Graduate Schools.” During two intensive semesters in RRWA, first year students work in small sections taught by full-time faculty members to develop key skills for legal practice, including legal research, writing and analysis.

Since 2011, the average bar passage rate for first-time takers among all North Carolina schools has been lower than the historical average. Last year the statewide passage rate for first-time takers was 65.90 percent; this year it was 72.20 percent. The overall statewide passage rate, which includes first-time takers and repeat takers, was 56.94 percent last year; this year the overall statewide passage rate was 61.75 percent. UNC again exceeded the statewide passage rates in both categories.

-September 20, 2017

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