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Joseph F. Rice School of Law

UofSC Law Ranks in Top 50 for ABA ultimate bar passage rate

Two years after graduating from the University of South Carolina School of Law, 95% of the students in the Class of 2017 who sat for a bar exam have passed, landing the law school in the top 50 among all ABA accredited law schools.  Several years ago, the ABA began collecting data on what is known as the “ultimate bar passage" rate, measuring the percentage of a school’s graduates who have sat for and passed a bar exam within two years of graduation.  

“The ultimate bar passage numbers for South Carolina Law graduates speak to the ability and effort of our students, who work hard to prepare themselves for the profession,” says Dean Rob Wilcox. “It also speaks well of the quality of the education they receive while at South Carolina Law. Even those who do not pass on their first attempt know that bar passage is a goal they reasonably can expect to attain.” 

The ultimate bar passage rates of South Carolina Law graduates are likely to remain very strong for the immediate future.  Already, 92% of the 2018 graduates who have taken a bar exam have passed, as have 81% of the 2019 graduates who have taken an exam. Typically, more than 90% of all graduates sit for a bar exam within the first year.

This success is due in no small part to the number of programs students have access to as they prepare for the bar exam. Each spring, Alex Ruskell, director of academic success and bar preparation, organizes weekly workshops, which break down the Multistate Essay Examination (MEE), Multistate Performance Test (MPT), and the Multistate Bar Examination (MBE) in great detail, giving students the opportunity to practice both hands-on skills and theoretical application. However, the opportunities for preparation go beyond taking practice exams.

Ruskell tries to meet with every single third-year student individually over the course of the spring semester to ensure the highest level of preparedness for the bar exam. “One-on-one meetings provide students with individualized guidance in preparing for the bar,” Ruskell says. “Students differ in terms of learning style, background, and career direction, all of which should be taken into account when studying for the bar.” 

Ruskell also coordinates alumni panels during which previous test-takers discuss their experiences with current students. Alumni offer strategies for preparation and study, as well as best practices for being mentally and emotionally ready for the exam.

And faculty often provide presentations and workshops to students taking the bar exam to review the specific subject matter taught in their courses with the aim of preparing for the exam.

“Our students are ready for success on the bar exam, but beyond that, they’re well-equipped with the ability to apply theoretical knowledge in real-world situations. It’s the best of both worlds,” says Susan Palmer, associate dean for student affairs. “Their achievements on the bar and in their careers can be attributed to the excellent education they receive here, especially through some of our nationally ranked programs.”

South Carolina Law is home to several top 50 programs, according to the 2020 U.S. News & World Report, including:

  • Trial Advocacy (No. 34; No. 11 among public law schools)
  • Clinical Law Training (No. 40; No. 19 among public law schools)
  • Legal Writing (No. 42; No. 21 among public law schools)
  • Environmental Law (No. 50; No. 25 among public law schools)

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