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Illinois bar applicants filled with anticipation and/or dread about the results of the July exam should be getting either the good or bad news in the mail this week. Exam results were sent to applicants Monday. For four out of five of those who sat for the exam, the news will be good. Bar officials are reporting a 79 percent passage rate, meaning 1,938 of the 2,453 prospective lawyers passed, according to figures provided by the Illinois Board of Admissions to the Bar. Law schools have not yet received individual pass rates for their institutions, but are expected to have the information in hand within the next week or so. Bar passage rates in Illinois have remained relatively consistent, with winter percentage rates in the low 70s and the summer rates in the upper 70s to low 80s. This time last year the pass rate also was 79 percent overall. A five-year low of 69 percent from February’s exam had some concerned that the standards for passage may be too restrictive. But bar officials and law school deans back then predicted the summer would see a higher result. “Most of us who watch the numbers believed as they were decreasing that the supreme court had decided to restrict access” to the bar when it toughened standards five years ago,” said University of Illinois College of Law Dean Thomas M. Mengler. And while that issue “was troublesome and continues to be troublesome,” Mengler, whose student pass rate is typically in the mid-90s, said the numbers seem to be settling in at 79 to 80 percent. Some may say that leveling out is a good thing in that it knocks out the appropriate number of lawyers who aren’t ready for practice, while others might argue it’s a bad thing in that it restricts entry into the profession. As far as the numbers go, winter rates are typically lower for a variety of suspected reasons, including the fact that many bar applicants first take their exam after law school in the summer and if they are having trouble retake it the following winter. Also, “non-traditional” law students with family and full-time career responsibilities often opt to take the winter exam. Still, bar passage rates have dropped, most dramatically in 1995 after the Illinois Supreme Court enacted tougher standards for test takers. The court raised the required score combining the Multi-State Bar Exam and the state essay portions to 264 points need to obtain an Illinois law license. Until then, bar passage rates had spiked to 95 percent. Applicants who have not received their results in the mail by Oct. 10 may call the Board of Admissions to the Bar at (217) 522-5917. Call that number or visit the organization’s website at www.ibaby.org for more information about deadlines and fees. Illinois bar exam results are not released to the general public.

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