The University of Florida’s Levin College of Law had the lowest pass rate of Florida law schools in the February exam, according to the Florida Bar of Examiners.
The University of Florida’s Levin College of Law has the lowest pass rate of Florida law schools in the most recent bar exam, according to a Florida Bar of Examiners report.
According to bar data released Monday, 32 percent of Levin students passed the bar exam in February. The Florida International University College for Law and Ave Maria School of Law had the highest pass rate with about 85 percent each.
The pass rate applies to students who took both parts of the two-part test in Florida for the first time. Lawyers must pass the bar to practice law in Florida.
According to the data, students from law schools outside of Florida passed at 36 percent. Of all students taking both parts of the bar exam for the first time in February, 58 percent passed.
In a statement, Dean Laura Rosenbury said Levin College of Law officials were disappointed in the results, calling them a "clear wake-up call."
The results are a significant drop from the school that U.S. News and World Report ranked a top-20 public law school nationwide.
Of UF students who took the bar exam in July 2017, 77 percent passed. Of those who took it in February 2017, 67 percent passed. In July 2016, 79 percent of UF students passed the bar. In those three cases, UF students scored higher than the exams’ average takers.
Third-year law student Joey Mann said the results were “very disheartening to hear.”
Because only 22 UF students took the exam in February, it’s difficult to see what caused the drop in scores, he said.
“There’s no rhyme or reason to it, I think,” Mann said. He suspects students were distracted by the holidays before taking the bar in February, although it doesn’t explain the gap in passing rates among law schools.
“I don’t think these kind of numbers reflect the school we are,” he continued. “There’s only so much a school can do.”
In an email to law students, Rosenbury said third-year students will be required to submit a study plan to prepare for the exam and to take a diagnostic test, which the college will provide.
The college will then provide “unprecedented” levels of support for the third-year law students at risk of failing the bar, Rosenbury wrote in the email.
First-year law student Kaitlyn Silverberg said it wasn’t surprising FIU had the highest pass rate, as she’s heard the university prioritizes preparing students for the bar.
At UF, she said, students can take classes that don’t necessarily relate to topics on the bar exam, like environmental issues at St. Augustine.
Jessica Molina, a 2017 graduate of the Levin College of Law, said more could have been done to prepare her graduating class for the bar.
She was one of the 15 students to fail the bar in February, and she said she didn’t want to take a college class to prepare for the bar instead of a class that would prepare her to become a property lawyer.
“Why would you want to take that if it’s not what you want to practice for the rest of your life?” she said.
She said the email Rosenbury sent to students, which said the bar results were “utterly unacceptable given the caliber of our students and the quality of their education,” felt like “knife in the wound.”
“That’s literally the last thing you want to hear,” she said.
In her statement, Rosenbury said the college is reconsidering the autonomy students have over selecting which classes they take.