Want to attend law school in Florida? These have the highest Bar passage rates

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If you want to become a lawyer in Florida, the best place to do so might be Miami-Dade County.

The Florida Board of Bar Examiners released the results Monday for the most recent Bar exam administered in late July among Florida’s law schools. The results show the law schools of Miami-based Florida International University and Coral Gables-based University of Miami outperformed all other Florida law schools in their percentage of people who passed the Bar exam.

Passing the general Bar exam, as well as passing an additional Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam, is required to practice law in the state.

How did my Florida university or college fare on US News rankings? See list here

FIU, the largest public university in South Florida, led the rankings of Florida’s 11 law schools with a whopping 88.8% passing rate. Out of the 116 FIU graduates who took the exam this summer, 103 passed it.

The exam was administered remotely for all students due to the pandemic on July 27-28. The statewide passing rate was 71.6 percent, which included the rates for the 11 law schools, plus the passing rate for non-Florida law schools (62.5 percent) and the rate for those admitted to the practice of law (78.5 percent).

“I’m just so very proud and impressed by our Bar takers,” said FIU law dean Anthony Page. “They have shown an enormous amount of resilience and persistence and legal skill given all of the travails of the last year.”

The Florida Board of Bar Examiners administers the state Bar exam twice a year, traditionally in person, in February and July.

The July date attracts more test-takers, as it comes after the spring semester, when law schools graduate more students than in the fall. The February date attracts more repeat test-takers, or people who have failed once and need to take the exam again to practice law.

The results released Monday are based on students taking the exam for the first time.

Florida International University College of Law Dean Anthony Page.
Florida International University College of Law Dean Anthony Page.

Last year, the Board administered the second exam three months late in October because of the pandemic. That exam and the other two since have been administered remotely because of the novel coronavirus.

Results for the Florida Bar exam, July 2021



Students taking

Students passing

Percent passing

Florida International University College of Law

116

103

88.8%

University of Miami School of Law

246

203

82.5%

University of Florida College of Law

203

165

81.3%

Stetson University College of Law

203

160

78.8%

Florida State University College of Law

184

136

73.9%

Ave Maria School of Law

34

23

67.6%

Nova Southeastern University College of Law

138

92

66.7%

Barry University School of Law

120

71

59.2%

Florida A&M University College of Law

95

54

56.8%

Florida Coastal School of Law

15

8

53.3%

St. Thomas University College of Law

128

65

50.8%

Non-Florida law schools

459

287

62.5%

Admitted to the Practice of Law

344

270

78.5%

FIU has aced the Bar exam for years

This marks the seventh consecutive year that FIU has come out on top in the larger fall administration of the exam. Last October, FIU posted an 89.3% passing rate.

In February 2021, 75% of FIU graduates who took the exam passed it.

Page credited FIU’s success to its Academic Excellence Program, which offers students optional courses about cognitive learning science.

For instance, students who take a class called “Introduction to the Study of Law” in their first semester learn about the value of contextualization and quality feedback.

About 85% of all FIU law students tend to take that class, Page said, which helps them develop the habits needed to succeed in law school, the Bar exam and later on in their careers.

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“The key is it’s not about memorization or Bar preparation; it’s about teaching students how to teach themselves or how to more effectively learn,” he said. “We’re teaching people how to be better learners, which frankly, will make them better lawyers.”

For third-year students, the program has a class called “U.S. Law and Procedure,” which targets studying for the Bar exam.

After graduating, as they approach their Bar administration date, students can also sign up for the Bar Exam Success Program, which allows them to attend workshops and seek mentors.

Bar passage rates for FIU law students, 2021-2017

Date administered

Students taking

Students passing

Percent passing

July 2021

116

103

88.8%

February 2021

20

15

75%

October 2020

103

92

89.3%

February 2020

11

9

81.8%

July 2019

116

111

95.7%

February 2019

10

8

80%

July 2018

118

104

88.1%

February 2018

30

23

76.7%

July 2017

123

108

87.8%

February 2017

19

15

78.9%

UM raised its Bar passage rate

UM, a private institution, came in second in Monday’s results, closely behind FIU. Out of the 246 UM graduates who took the test, 203 passed it, for a Bar passage rate of 82.5.

That’s a 20-point increase compared with the February 2021 passing rate of 62.1% and a 10-point gain compared with the October 2020 passing rate of 72.5%.

Anthony Varona, a UM law professor who was the law school dean until UM President Julio Frenk abruptly fired him in May, had instituted several initiatives to raise the school’s Bar passage rate. Among those: Hiring Steven Maxwell, a popular Bar instructor, from the University of Florida to work with students in preparing for the Bar exam.

Anthony Varona, the popular former dean of UM’s law school
Anthony Varona, the popular former dean of UM’s law school

UM spokesman Peter Howard couldn’t provide answers to emailed questions from the Herald regarding the improvement and Varona’s involvement.

Instead, Howard emailed a statement attributed to UM’s Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost Jeffrey Duerk.

University of Miami Provost Jeffrey Duerk.
University of Miami Provost Jeffrey Duerk.

“We are extremely proud of our Miami Law graduates and their recent success in bar examination passage rates, and we are excited about the future of our School of Law and new cohort of first-year law students who joined the University this fall,” it read in part.

“Each year, Miami Law’s Academic Achievement Program provides numerous seminars and workshops to students, including a seminar that focuses specifically on helping students prepare for the bar exam.”

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Bar passage rates for UM law students, 2021-2017

Date administered

Students taking

Students passing

Percent passing

July 2021

246

203

82.5%

February 2021

29

18

62.1%

October 2020

244

177

72.5%

February 2020

20

11

55%

July 2019

213

172

80.8%

February 2019

24

16

66.7%

July 2018

244

203

83.2%

February 2018

25

14

56%

July 2017

196

165

84.2%

February 2017

36

29

80.6%