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Tuesday, Nov 11, 2008

SMU is first in state in bar-exam passing rates



Southern Methodist University’s Dedman School of Law had the state’s highest passing rates for first-time test takers on the July bar exam. Texas Southern University’s Thurgood Marshall School of Law in Houston had the lowest, according to the Texas Board of Law Examiners.

The passing rates for Texas Wesleyan School of Law in Fort Worth, Tarrant County’s only law school, dropped from 91 percent last year to 77 percent this year, according to results released this month.

Overall, 85 percent of first-time test takers passed the bar exam, which is required to become a licensed lawyer.

SMU had the second-highest passing rate last year. Law school Dean John Attanasio said the school expanded its curriculum a few years ago to increase the focus on the basics of law and the legal writing program. Bar passage rates have increased since then, he said.

Texas Wesleyan law school Dean Frederic White said the top three-quarters of the July 2008 test takers had an 89 percent passing rate. The passing rates fell off in the bottom quarter, he said. The school plans to examine why.

"We’re not happy with 77," he said. "We’re working on it. We’re not panicking."

Southern University officials could not be reached for comment Monday.