Bar success rates drop for third exam period in a row

Image courtesy WVLA-TV
Friday, October 11, 2013 - 11:00pm

Hundreds of newly-minted lawyers are celebrating. But there are fewer people joining the industry than in years past.

The results of the July Louisiana Bar Exam were released Friday.

"It's one of the worst feelings in the world, not knowing whether or not you'll pass," Dixon McMakin said, hours after learning he passed. "But seeing your name on the list was worth all the hard work and the dedication that me and my other friends had put in over the last several months before the Bar."

Just over half of all the people who took it passed. The statewide success rate has dropped in each of the last two years because of changes designed to make our lawyers more qualified.

The Bar exam consists of multiple sections, spread out over three days. Prior to 2012, test-takers could pass conditionally, meaning they completed some sections, but not the entire exam. In order to fully pass, they would need only to retake the pieces they failed originally. Now, the whole exam must be completed at the same time.

The types of questions administered changed, as well.

"More multiple choice now," McMakin recalled, "which sounds easy, but it's the most difficult multiple choice you would ever take in your entire life. And just thankful that I circled the right one."

McMakin has already lined up a job with a Baton Rouge financial firm, where he will focus on estate planning.

He said he studied for 8-12 hours a day for two months before taking the exam.

After answering the final question, he, "went home, might have cried a little, I'll be honest with you, that you know it's out of your hands and it's up to the graders now.

"Whoever they are, wherever they are, thank you."

LSU had the highest rate of its former students pass the Bar. But it's success rate has dropped more than 15-percent because of the changes made to the exam.

Southern experienced the same trouble. In 2011, 62 percent of its students passed the Bar, but only 34 percent completed it this year.

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