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Improved performances by most New York law schools helped raise the statewide pass rate for first-time takers of the July bar exam to 79 percent, with Cornell Law School edging out Columbia Law School and Fordham University School of Law for top honors. Eleven of the 14 law schools releasing their July 2001 pass rates reported improved results from the previous year’s exam. The improvements are reflected in the overall state average for first-time takers, which rose from 75 percent reported for the July 2000 exam to 79 percent for July 2001. Of the schools reporting results for first-time takers, six managed to score above the state average, with each of those schools reporting an increased pass rate from the previous July exam. Even among those scoring below the state average, there were schools whose results were significantly improved. After moving into a tie with New York University School of Law for the highest July 2000 pass rate, Cornell now stands alone at the top of the list of schools reporting, with a pass rate of 96 percent for its first-time takers of the July 2001 exam. “I think the main thing is that we have very smart, hard-working students,” said Cornell Vice Dean John Siliciano. “We take law education seriously here and that gives students a good fundamental footing to take a test like the New York Bar and do well.” Columbia followed in second place with a pass rate of 94 percent, while Fordham rounded out the higher end of the spectrum with a 93 percent pass rate. New York University School of Law declined to provide its July 2001 statistics to the Law Journal. Law schools within the state were still scrambling to compile their results as recently as last week, after enduring a delay in grading caused by the Sept. 11 World Trade Center attack, and a further delay caused by a state Board of Law Examiners miscalculation that resulted in 189 passing candidates being mistakenly informed that they had failed. The schools whose bar pass rates improved the most were Syracuse College of Law and Hofstra University School of Law, both of which reported an increase of 14 percentage points. Syracuse, which had experienced a 17 point decline in its pass rate over the past two years, rebounded this year to 72 percent, up from last year’s score of 58 percent. Hofstra jumped from a 63 percent pass rate for July 2000 to a 77 percent rate for July 2001. STEPS TAKEN “I’m obviously pleased that our pass rate was much better this year, but it’s still not as high as I think it should be,” said Syracuse Dean Daan Braveman. “We took a number of steps last year to try to encourage the students and assist their preparation.” Steps taken by Syracuse included offering a non-credit course on how to prepare for the multistate portion of the bar exam and a free, seven-week bar review course run by exam preparation specialist Bar/Bri, which was held throughout the spring semester. Another significant increase was reported by Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, whose pass rate for first-time takers jumped to 86 percent, up 11 percentage points from its July 2000 score. “The improvement is very gratifying,” said Cardozo Dean David Rudenstine. “It is due to the fact that the class that took the bar this past summer was a much stronger class than previous years. Both their [grade point averages] and [law school admissions test] scores were higher. According to our experience, those two factors coordinate to produce higher bar passage rates.” In addition to Cornell, Columbia, Fordham and Cardozo, Brooklyn Law School and St. John’s University School of Law also scored above the state average, with both schools reporting a pass rate of 82 percent. The eight law schools scoring below the state average were Syracuse; Hofstra; University at Buffalo (State University of New York) Law School, which reported a pass rate of 78 percent; Albany Law School, with a pass rate of 77 percent; New York Law School, 72 percent; CUNY School of Law at Queens College and Pace University School of Law, both reporting a 69 percent pass rate; and Touro, whose pass rate was 65 percent. Every school scoring below the state average in July 2001 increased its pass rate from the July 2000 exam, with the exception of New York Law School, whose pass rate remained the same; CUNY, which dropped five percentage points, and Touro, whose numbers declined by 4 percent. In total, 9,194 applicants took the July 2001 bar exam, with 6,664 passing. Of the 7,602 applicants taking the examination for the first time, 6,030 passed. Bar Pass Rates at New York State Law Schools

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