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July bar exam results released

The pass rate for the July bar exam remains on the upswing.

The State Bar of California’s Committee of Bar Examiners announced late last month that 55.8 percent of applicants who took the test this summer passed, a success rate that has increased for the second year in a row. In July 2012, 55.3 percent of applicants passed, up from 54.8 percent the year before.

According to preliminary test data, of the 8,900 applicants who took the exam in July, 74.6 percent were first-time test-takers. Of those 6,636 applicants, 68 percent passed the test. The success rate for repeat test-takers was 21 percent. 

As expected, the applicants who had the most success on the July test were those who had attended California law schools approved by the American Bar Association. Seventy-six percent of first-time test-takers and 33 percent of repeat test-takers from ABA-accredited schools passed the test. Those numbers for out-of-state ABA-accredited schools were 64 percent and 19 percent, respectively.

The three-day General Bar Examination is given two times a year – in February and July – and consists of the multiple-choice Multistate Bar Examination, six essay questions and two performance tests. They are designed to measure the applicant’s ability to apply general knowledge to practical tasks. Passing the exam is not the only requirement for admission – prospective lawyers must not be delinquent on family or child support payments and must receive a positive moral character determination and pass the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination.

More detailed statistics showing how test-takers at individual law schools fared are expected to be released in January and will be available on the State Bar’s website at http://admissions.calbar.ca.gov/.

In addition to the bar exam results, the Committee of Bar Examiners also announced that 35.5 percent – 146 out of 411 lawyers – who took the Attorneys’ Examination in July passed it. Of those, 29 were disciplined lawyers who took the test in an effort to become reinstated. Four of those attorneys passed.

The Attorneys’ Examination consists of the essay and performance test sections of the General Bar Exam and is open to attorneys from other jurisdictions who have been admitted to the active practice of law for at least four years.