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Withering statistics plaguing law schools in recent years have rebounded as the percentage of law graduates passing the Connecticut bar exam in July grew modestly from 2000. For the first time since 1997, the exam’s pass rate showed improvement from the previous year; 78 percent, or 566, of the 727 people who took the bar exam this summer can breathe a well-earned sigh of relief. That’s up from the year before, when only 72 percent of test-takers received passing marks. Officials at the University of Connecticut School of Law and Quinnipiac University School of Law had particular reason to rejoice over the July results, released earlier this month by the Connecticut Bar Examining Committee. Pass rates for first-time takers from both schools each rose nine percentage points from 2000. Nine out of 10 UConn grads (88 of 98) saved themselves the indignity of having to take the exam a second time, up from 81 percent the previous July. Including repeat takers in the mix, the Hartford law school’s overall pass rate was 85 percent, according to R. David Stamm, the examining committee’s administrative director. As for Quinnipiac, 110, or 81 percent, of its 135 first-time takers passed the bar. A year ago, the Hamden law school recorded a 72 percent pass rate for first-timers, its worst outing in recent memory. Overall, 82 percent of 638 people taking the exam for the first time in July proved to be up to the challenge. Though law grads who previously failed the bar are statistically more likely to fail again than first-time takers, the overall 78 percent pass rate was aided by two of three law grads taking the bar for a seventh time, according to Stamm. The sole person enduring the exercise for the sixth time also finally managed a passing score, he said. SUPPLEMENTING BAR/BRI Asked to what he attributed the higher pass rates, Richard E. Litvin, a professor and director of academic support at Quinnipiac, was at a loss. Increased attendance this year at the supplemental bar review course he offers to Quinnipiac’s third-year students, however, “may have been a factor” in the school’s individual performance, Litvin surmised. Ellen Rutt, UConn’s associate dean of admissions and career services, said offering a non-credit bar review course “might be something we would consider” if the school’s pass rate were to drop precipitously. But right now, “I haven’t heard of any groundswell of public opinion” in favor of taking such a leap, she noted. Stamm said pass rates have been declining across the country in recent years. Many bar examiners speculate the cause to be the decline of law school applicants in the mid-1990s, which resulted in many schools digging deeper in the candidate pool than they normally would have, he said. Stamm said this July’s 78 percent pass rate is nearly identical to the score reached when averaging previous July pass rates for the 10-year period between 1990 and 2000. One trend, however, wasn’t bucked this year. The number of people taking the Connecticut bar continued to decline. Last year, a combined 1,157 law grads sat for February and July exams, according to Stamm. This year, only 1,085 tests were administered by the examining committee, he said.
Complete list of successful candidates Related chart: Pass Rates for Regional Law Schools See results for other states

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