Cornell Law School tops state in New York bar-exam passing rates

Cornell Law School tops the list of law schools in New York when it comes to the percentage of students who pass the New York state bar exam.

According to the American Bar Association (ABA), which is publicly releasing state bar exam pass rates for the first time, Cornell Law School graduates topped the state in 1995 with a 96 percent pass rate for those taking the bar exam for the first time. That's well above the statewide passing rate of 78 percent. Historically, about half of Cornell Law School's juris doctorate graduates, approximately 180 students, take the New York state bar exam.

"This statistic really speaks to the quality of students we admit," said Anne Lukingbeal, associate dean and dean of students for the Cornell Law School. "They all possess strong academic credentials."

Lukingbeal also attributed the high pass rate to the Law School's excellent faculty and Cornell's rich academic environment.

Cornell's New York state bar exam pass rates have been over 95 percent for the past three years.

Along with Cornell, law schools at New York University, the State University at Albany, Columbia University and Fordham University make up the schools with the five highest passing percentages in the state. The two-day bar exam is given twice a year in New York, in February and July.

Typically, after receiving their law degrees, graduates enroll in a bar exam preparatory courses, which usually last six weeks. Many recent graduates accept positions at law firms prior to taking or passing the bar exam. Law firms usually assist graduates in preparing for the exam, either by paying the prep course tuition or providing ample study time by postponing job responsibilities until after the exam.

The ABA also identified Cornell as one of the most competitive law schools in the state, noting that only 25 percent of applicants were accepted into the juris doctorate program in the 1996-97 academic year. Only Columbia University with a 20 percent acceptance rate and New York University, 23 percent, were more competitive than Cornell. The median acceptance rate for the state was 44 percent.

Other statistical information on the nation's law schools, such as student-faculty ratios, attrition rates and class size, is contained in the recently published ABA Approved Law Schools (Simon & Schuster McMillan).

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