UMass Law bar pass rate rises to fifth among eight Massachusetts law schools

At Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce meeting, Dean Eric Mitnick cites exam scores, expanded partnerships with Massachusetts colleges, 100,000 hours of service to the community

UMass Law student in classroom

UMass School of Law Dean Eric Mitnick updated the Worcester business community on the status of the Commonwealth’s public law school Wednesday, citing improving bar pass rates, expanded partnerships with Massachusetts colleges, and 100,000 hours of service by students.

Speaking at the Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce President’s Council lunch less than one year after UMass Law received full American Bar Association accreditation, Dean Mitnick noted that the UMass Dartmouth-based school has climbed to fifth among eight Massachusetts ABA-accredited law schools for 2017 first-time bar passage rates.

Nearly 72 percent of the UMass Law students who took the test for the first time in 2017 passed the test. The February and July 2017 combined first-time pass rates for the eight Massachusetts ABA-accredited law schools are as follows:

Harvard               100%                 UMass Law     71.7%     

Boston College     88.5%                New England  70.0%

Boston University 85.9%                Western NE    67.9%

Northeastern        83.7%                Suffolk          63.6%             

“It is gratifying that our students, so soon after the institution received full accreditation, are succeeding on the bar exam,” UMass Law Dean Eric Mitnick said. “This is a testament to the quality of their instruction and their own steadfast determination to practice law in the pursuit of justice. We are committed to working with all of our graduates to achieve bar passage.”

Dean Mitnick also said UMass Law is working with Becker College, Worcester State University, and Framingham State University on 3-plus-3 programs, which will allow students at those schools to combine their last year of undergraduate college with their first year of law school. UMass Law currently has 3-plus-3 agreements with UMass Dartmouth, UMass Boston, UMass Lowell, Fitchburg State University, and the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts.

“As the Commonwealth’s school of law, we have a duty to serve the cause of justice in every corner of the state,” Dean Mitnick said. “Our students choose to serve long before they graduate and become lawyers, and they are supported in their initiatives by dedicated faculty and staff.”

UMass Law was established in 2010 to provide an affordable legal education option in Massachusetts. The school’s tuition is about half that of other Massachusetts law schools, and its students graduate with the lowest debt among the state’s law school graduates.

One of the most diverse law schools in New England, UMass Law is achieving recognition for its focus on serving the public. This year alone, the school has achieved the following:

  • UMass Law students surpass 100,000 hours pro bono legal services
  • 2017 Mass. State Bar Association Public Service Award
  • Mass. State Bar Association Oliver Wendell Holmes Scholarship to 2017 UMass Law graduate
  • Ranked third in nation for percentage of 2016 graduates in full-time, long-term public service jobs
  • 2017 Library of Congress Award (top 10 student law review articles nationally) to UMass Law student
  • 2017 Rappaport Fellowship to UMass Law student
  • 2017 Mass. Black Judges Association Book Award to UMass Law student
  • 2017 National Association of Women Lawyers Outstanding Member Award to UMass Law faculty member
  • UMass Law students published in UCLA Women’s Law Journal (2017); Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy (2017); and Biotech & Pharma Law Review (2017)

In addition to the legal services provided by students, UMass Law has established the Justice Bridge law practice incubator in New Bedford and Boston, which enables recent graduates to deliver affordable legal services to clients of modest means in family, housing, and other civil cases. Justice Bridge has served thousands of individuals since opening three years ago.


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