The following is excerpted from the Church Newsroom. To read the full report, CLICK HERE.
Photo: Brigham Young University law professor Paul Stancil instructs a class of students. Credit: BYU Law School
Want to send a cold chill through a recent law school grad?
Slowly utter these three words: The. Bar. Exam.
For generations of would-be attorneys, passing a state bar exam marks that professional rite of passage that stands between a juris doctor degree and a license to actually practice law.
For many, prepping for the bar exam can be exhausting and angst-ridden. And the country’s top law schools are in high demand, in part, because of their proven record of preparing their graduates to pass “the bar” on their first attempt.
Now Brigham Young University’s J. Reuben Clark Law School is being counted among the elite in readying its graduates for bar exam success.
The Church-sponsored institution cracked the top-10 list of U.S. law schools with the highest first-time bar exam passage rate in 2021, according to a Reuters story. Fellow top-10 institutions are the heavyweights of storied American law schools — including Harvard, New York University, Yale, Duke and Stanford.
In 2021, over 96% of BYU law school graduates passed the bar on their first attempt. That figure was realized even as first-time pass rates in law schools across the country fell more than three percentage points last year.
BYU Law School Dean D. Gordon Smith’s initial reaction upon learning his school had made the top-10 list was simple joy for the individual graduates that those percentages represent.
“When our students pass the bar exams they are super happy and their employment [opportunities] are better. … And they can move forward with their careers,” he said.
BYU law professor Catherine Bramble, whose duties include helping students prepare for the bar exam, credits the school’s success on its holistic approach in educating and involving students. BYU law professors are charged with helping their students “learn to learn.”
That begins at the moment of a BYU student’s admission and during pre-law school summer workshops — and then continues during his or her first year of law school, when the bar exam is still a distant notion. Such consistent attention to active learning reaches beyond simply teaching effective test-taking skills.
Cracking the top-10 list “really was the culmination of three years of effort,” said Bramble. “It’s been wonderful to see the support of the faculty and the administration, as well as the students.”
No two law students at BYU are identical, noted Smith. They all come from different backgrounds. They all manage different challenges. “So we treat every student as an individual — and try to bring to that individual what he or she needs to advance.”
To read the full report, CLICK HERE.