Kathleen “Kate” McCabe vacationed in Antigua with her husband in early November, forgetting when she booked the trip that it was around the same time the Texas Board of Law Examiners would announce the results of the July 2010 Texas bar exam.

McCabe, who graduated from the University of Texas School of Law in May, says she logged onto a computer at her hotel a couple times — at 50 cents per minute — to check for online bar exam results. On Nov. 4, she learned she passed the exam, and she and her husband celebrated at dinner that night in Antigua.

But McCabe plans a much bigger celebration soon with some friends and a bottle of chilled Dom Perignon champagne. She found out last week that she and another UT law graduate tied for the top score on the test.

Dallas native McCabe says she figured she had passed the grueling exam but was surprised to learn that no one scored higher than she did.

McCabe’s reaction to her score is similar to that of Eric Greig, who tied with McCabe to earn an 863 on the exam, and Paul McBride, a graduate of Southern Methodist University Dedman School of Law who had the second-highest score with 860.

“I really was not expecting that strong of a performance,” says McBride, an associate with Bracewell & Giuliani in Dallas who was on a conference call when the bar results came out. He learned he had passed when another associate sent him a message on his BlackBerry.

Greig says, “I was definitely surprised. . . . All I really wanted to have was to walk out and say that was the best I could have done.” He celebrated with family in Ohio last week before moving to Washington, D.C., to start a job as an associate with Latham & Watkins. His wife of three months, Laura Garrett Greig, will start work as an associate with the D.C. office of King & Spalding.

McCabe, Greig and McBride each took bar review courses and spent several weeks studying for the exam. While McBride, a former U.S. Army officer who is married with three children, started work in October, Greig’s first day on the job is Nov. 15, and McCabe doesn’t report to work as an associate with Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati in Austin until Jan. 10, 2011.

To stay busy, McCabe took a part-time position at a Macy’s store in Austin. “I work there for a few shifts every week and have my discount for work clothes and shoes,” she says.

The Numbers

Baylor University School of Law graduates had the highest pass rate on the July exam among the nine American Bar Association-accredited law schools in Texas. The Texas Board of Law Examiners (BLE) reports that 94.64 percent, or 106 of 112, of Baylor graduates who took the test for the first time in July passed.

The overall pass rate of Texas grads is 86.37 percent, or 1,470 of 1,702 first-time test-takers. The pass rate is slightly lower than the 89.41 percent, or 1,503 of 1,681, Texas law school first-time test-takers who passed the exam in July 2009. [See related chart, below.]

Graduates of Texas Southern University Thurgood Marshall School of Law hit a 37-year high mark on the July bar exam. The pass rate for graduates from the Houston law school who took the bar exam for the first time in July is 75.76 percent — the highest July pass rate for the school’s first-time test-takers since 1974, according to the BLE.

The percent of Thurgood Marshall’s graduates who have passed the July exam on the first try has been improving since 2001, when just 46.07 percent, or 41 of 89, of first-time test-takers passed, according to the BLE. On the July 2010 test, 75 of 99 of the school’s first-time test-takers passed.

Thurgood Marshall Dean Dannye R. Holley attributes the continued improvement in the school’s bar exam pass rate to a combination of law school programs and student effort.

“What I hope is that we can keep it going and maintain that [75 percent] level,” he says. “We hope that with that kind of bar passage rate we will have a much better chance of convincing a broader spectrum of employers to consider our students for employment.”

Brenda Sapino Jeffreys is on Twitter at www.twitter.com/BrendaSJeffreys. Jeanne Graham’s is on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jeannegraham.

Texas Law School Pass Rates on the July Bar Exam

Law School July 2010 Total Taking Test July 2010 Total Passing Test July 2010 Percent Passing July 2009 Percent Passing July 2008 Percent Passing
Baylor University School of Law

112

106

94.64

94.12

91.58

St. Mary’s University School of Law

195

155

79.49

82.80

87.23

South Texas College of Law

255

227

89.02

89.66

89.57

Southern Methodist University Dedman School of Law

200

166

83.00

90.99

93.97

Texas Southern University Thurgood Marshall School of Law

99

75

75.76

71.11

59.71

Texas Tech University School of Law

174

150

86.21

94.52

85.64

Texas Wesleyan University School of Law

174

139

79.89

93.29

77.10

University of Houston Law Center

229

207

90.39

91.63

93.33

University of Texas School of Law

264

245

92.80

92.36

90.24

Overall

1,702

1,470

86.37

89.41

86.90

Note: Results are for first-time test-takers who are Texas law school graduates.
Source: Texas Board of Law Examiners

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