As reported in the New York Law Journal, St. John’s Law continues to rank in the top tier of New York law schools for bar exam success, with a July 2018 pass rate of 87% that places it just behind New York University, Columbia, Cornell, and Fordham and well above the statewide average of 83% for first-time test takers at American Bar Association-accredited law schools.
“There are three drivers of a law school's bar exam pass rate: (1) selectivity (whom you admit); (2) pedagogy (how/what you teach); and (3) culture (how you approach bar prep itself),” says Dean Michael A. Simons. “Our 87% pass rate this year, and our 12.7 percentage point gain from 2016 to 2017, shows that St. John’s is succeeding on all three fronts.”
This marked the second consecutive year that the Law School has surpassed the statewide bar pass average. Those strides are rooted in a strategic plan that included expanding the school’s bar preparation curriculum, and incorporating key bar exam skills into the broader coursework over all three or four years of learning.
In addition to its revamped bar prep curriculum, St. John’s takes a holistic approach to ensure that its graduates use the Law School as their home base during the critical June and July bar preparation months. They receive a weekly newsletter with study tips; take practice exams under realistic conditions; benefit from individualized exam strategy counseling; attend Professor Robert A. Ruescher’s workshop series on exam topics; and participate in lighter group activities like “Bar Exam Jeopardy” hosted by Dean Simons. With the help of generous donors, the Law School also provides mealtime study breaks during the week, nourishing minds, bodies, and spirits during a stressful and demanding time and reinforcing a strong sense of community.
“Our graduates have responded positively to this extra level of support,” says Susan Landrum, the Law School’s assistant dean for academic achievement. “They have the camaraderie of their classmates, a familiar and comfortable study environment, and a wealth of resources that we offer to help them achieve on the bar exam. At this most vital time on their professional path, they know that we’re here for them every step of the way.”