Temple Times Online Edition
    OCTOBER 27, 2005
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Temple Law grads acing Pa. bar exam

For the second year in a row, the percentage of graduates of the James E. Beasley School of Law who passed the Pennsylvania bar examination on their first try was the second-highest among graduates of Pennsylvania-area law schools.

Of the 241 Temple Law graduates taking the Pennsylvania bar exam for the first time in July 2005, 206 passed. According to the Pennsylvania Board of Bar Examiners, Temple Law grads’ first-time pass rate, 85.48 percent, was about 7 percentage points higher than the statewide average.

Temple Law graduates’ first-time pass rate was higher than that of graduates of all other Pennsylvania area law schools (see table on page 4) except the University of Pennsylvania’s — and Temple Law grads are gaining fast. Five years ago, Temple Law grads’ first-time pass rate was only 72.15 percent, about 2 points below the 2000 statewide rate.

“When it comes to passing the Pennsylvania bar exam, the trend for Temple Law graduates in the last seven years has been consistently up,” said Robert J. Reinstein, dean of the Beasley School of Law. “I think it speaks very well to the quality of the students and teaching at the Law School, as well as the support we’ve given students to help them perform well on the bar exam.”

Temple Law graduates have also been performing well in other states’ bar exams in recent years. Although 2005 pass rate data for other states have yet to arrive, the first-time pass rates for Temple Law grads taking the New Jersey and New York bar exams in 2004 were 82 percent and 85 percent, respectively — significantly above statewide averages in each case.

Reinstein credits several recent Temple Law initiatives with helping to boost bar exam pass rates.

“About seven years ago, we put together an emergency loan fund to help students take bar review courses,” Reinstein said. “Bar review courses are very expensive; some students can’t afford them. Other students find it difficult to take time off work — we loan them money, too.”

The Law School also contracted with a bar review course provider to offer students a free, pre-graduation course “to help them get ahead,” he said.

Reinstein also believes that the law faculty’s decision to roll back grade inflation has helped boost pass rates. Students in the bottom third or quarter of their classes are no longer developing a false sense of security because of artificially high grades, Reinstein said, and they’re pushing themselves harder.

“These programs are essential because the stakes for every graduate are so great,” Reinstein said. “It’s much harder to get a job if you don’t pass the bar exam, and some of the people who have jobs get fired if they fail. That’s why we care about it so much.”

Applications to the Law School jumped by 17 percent for this year’s entering class, while the national application rate declined. This year, the Law School received more than 5,300 applications for 330 seats.

- By Hillel J. Hoffmann

Raising the bar
First-time pass rates on the July 2005 Pennsylvania bar exam for graduates of Pennsylvania-area law schools:
University of Pennsylvania Law School: 89.39 percent
Temple University — James E. Beasley School of Law: 85.48
University of Pittsburgh School of Law: 84.38
Villanova University School of Law: 82.95
The Dickinson School of Law of the Pennsylvania State University: 81.21
Statewide average: 78.50
Rutgers University School of Law–Camden: 76.77
Duquesne University School of Law:68.02
Widener University School of Law–Delaware Campus: 67.02
Widener University School of Law–Harrisburg Campus: 59.41