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Performance Under Pressure: Law Students Prepare for Bar Exam

Date: July 21, 2000
By: Michele Howard, intern
Archive: General News

Most UC graduates are breathing a sigh of relief right now, ecstatic final exams are over... forever. Unfortunately, this solace is foreign to law school grads. They survived contracts, constitutional law, torts, and their final, final exams, but it's not over yet.

Law Class of 2000

After receiving their diplomas, law students must begin rigorously studying for the Ohio Bar Exam. "It's a hard thing to do. You go through finals, graduate and start bar review classes," said Hilary Ellison, Program Coordinator and Ohio Bar Registrar for UC's College of Law Career Planning Center. The three-day exam takes place in Columbus on July 25-27.

Bar review courses meet approximately four hours daily for 7 weeks, but Ellison noted that "you don't just go to class for four hours. Most students study several additional hours per day." Ellison explained there is an enormous amount of information to memorize for the bar exam.

Chris Wagner, (White Oak) a UC Law graduate, is one of those preparing to take the bar exam next week. "It's very hard at this point. I study all day, but you have to take breaks or you'll go nuts."

As if it wasn't hard enough before, this year there will be an added component to Ohio's exam -- the Multistate Performance Test (MPT). The MPT is designed to mimic realistic situations encountered by a beginning lawyer. This new obstacle, coupled with the disturbing nationwide trend of falling bar exam pass rates, make this a stressful time for graduates.

"I try to read, study and memorize all day and do nothing else except eat and sleep," said Nora Burke, (Mt. Lookout) another recent graduate of UC's College of Law. "It stinks," she said laughing, "but it's a means to an end."

On the bright side, UC grads might have a little less to worry about than other law students. For seven consecutive years, UC's passage rate on the July bar for first-time test takers (the standard for calculating school rankings) has led the state. In 1999, 70% of all Ohio Bar Exam applicants passed the bar. However, at UC 93% of the students succeeded followed by Case Western with an 85% passage rate.

"In 1994, 100% of our students passed. That was my first year. I was so relieved I didn't have to tell anyone that they didn't make it," said Ellison.

Why is it UC does so well? "Everybody asks that," said Ellison. Basically, she credits UC's success to three factors. "To begin with, we are pretty selective. We get some really fine applicants, and we have an experienced and dedicated faculty." The size of the school, which accepts a maximum of 400 students, is important as well. "There is a lot of interaction between faculty, students and staff. It's a supportive environment with real conversations. The students know the faculty and the faculty know the students. It's the kind of place you'd really want to come to."

"I think UC prepared me as much as it could have," said Wagner. He explained the bar exam tests your ability to recite the black letter of the law. "UC teaches you to think like a lawyer... the bar is its own animal."


 
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