UMass Law bar pass rates continue to impress

Commonwealth’s public law school outperformed area private schools less than one year after receiving full ABA accreditation

Law student in classroom

In the American Bar Association’s first multi-jurisdictional ranking of bar pass results published today, the UMass Dartmouth-based School of Law outperformed four nearby private schools in just its seventh year of existence and less than a year after becoming a fully ABA-accredited school.

The UMass Law 2017 first-time bar pass rate was 72.73 percent, surpassing four area private law schools, which had bar pass rates ranging from 58.62 percent to 67.86 percent.

 “We are excited to see our law students outperforming many of their private law school peers on the bar exam while also delivering thousands of hours of pro bono legal services to organizations and individuals across the region,” UMass Dartmouth Chancellor Robert E. Johnson said. “This most recent data from the ABA demonstrates, once and for all, that the Commonwealth’s law school is delivering on the dual promise of providing an affordable legal education and expanding access to justice.”

“These test results are a testament to the quality of our students and the excellence of our faculty,” UMass Law Dean Eric Mitnick said. “We are confident that our pass rates will continue to improve in the years ahead.”

“UMass Law continues to make giant strides as the Commonwealth’s first and only public law school,” UMass President Marty Meehan said. “These results are a credit to the leadership and commitment of Chancellor Johnson and Dean Mitnick as well as the hard work and dedication of the impressive and inspiring UMass Law students.”

Meanwhile, in another metric released for the first time by the ABA, UMass Law students who graduated in 2015, prior to full ABA accreditation, had an “ultimate” bar pass rate of 88.68 percent, higher than the national average of 87.83 percent. The “ultimate” bar pass rate covers students who sat for a bar exam within two years of graduating from law school.

ABA statement on bar passage outcomes.

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 interest. UMass Law has provided more than 100,000 hours of pro bono legal services, earned a top national ranking for graduates securing public service jobs after graduation, and won the Massachusetts State Bar Association Public Service Award. Its students have won four straight Rappaport Fellowships, a Library of Congress Award, and other national and state awards.

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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