According to the State Bar of California, 55.3 percent of applicants passed the July bar exam, including 68 percent of those taking the test for the first time.
For those who passed the exam from American Bar Association-accredited schools in California, 77 percent were first-time test-takers while only 64 percent of first-timers from out-of-state ABA schools passed.
Graduates of California Western School of Law were right at the statewide average for ABA-approved law schools, according to its dean, Niels Schaumann.
"While it’s always nice to exceed the average, it is a bit of a tough competition," he said. "Our ultimate goal is to prepare students to enter the practice of law. While taking and passing the bar exam is only one step in that process, it is a very important one, and we are proud of our bar program and its results.”
Those who passed will still find a tight job market, even though the industry is slowly rebounding.
“I talk with lawyers almost every single day and most of them tell me they are busy, but many are still reluctant to begin hiring again," Schaumann said, noting firms don't want to risk the prospect of more layoffs in case of another downturn. "While I can understand that reluctance, I hope we will get back into more of a hiring market sooner, rather than later.”
The three-day General Bar Examination (GBX) is given twice a year and consists of three sections: a multiple-choice multistate bar examination (MBE), six essay questions and two performance tests.
The mean scaled MBE score in California was 1459 compared with the national average of 1434.
In addition, the exam committee announced that 152 (34.9 percent) of the 435 lawyers who took the attorneys' examination passed.
The attorneys' examination, which consists of the essay and performance test sections of the GBX, is open to lawyers who have been admitted to the active practice of law in good standing for at least four years in another U.S. jurisdiction.
Successful applicants who have satisfied other requirements for admission — those who have not been reported by local district attorneys for being in arrears with family or child support payments, who have received a positive moral character determination and who have passed the multistate professional responsibility examination — may either take the attorney's oath individually or participate in admissions ceremonies held throughout the state during December.