October 25, 2007

SIU School of Law graduates ace bar exam

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. — The results are in, and Southern Illinois University School of Law graduates definitely make the grade when it comes taking the state bar exam tests for the first time.

Ninety-two percent, or 65 of the 71 SIU law school graduates who took the Illinois State Bar Exam in July passed the examination, compared to the statewide average of 90 percent. The overall pass rate — first time and repeat takers — for the law school is 87 percent, 71 of 82 graduates, compared with Illinois' overall pass rate of 86 percent.

In Missouri, meanwhile, 88 percent, or 15 of 17 SIU law school graduates who took that state's test for the first time also passed the examination. And each of the law school graduates who took examinations for the first time in six other states also passed those respective exams. Those states, with the number of SIU law school grads, are: Colorado (1); Indiana (2); Iowa (1); Kentucky (3), Tennessee (5) and Wisconsin (1). Other states have yet to report their results.

"It's a very strong showing all across the country," Dean Peter C. Alexander said. "We are very proud of our graduates and very pleased that they have enjoyed such success."

Alexander expects the law school's results to place very well in comparison with eight other law schools in Illinois. Those results will not be known for a few weeks, he said.

Alexander credits the law school's academic success program, an additional free bar preparation program that includes workshops and simulated essay exams, with the bar exam results. SIU was among the first law schools in the nation to offer additional bar preparation.

The free workshops are in addition to a private, commercially run bar review course that graduates pay to attend. The writing essay workshops are on topics covered by the commercial course. Graduates do not need to participate in the commercial bar review course to participate in the free workshops.

The workshops are a service the law school provides, and is "value-added" for graduates, Alexander said.

"We think the summer preparation program in addition to the three years of law school education prepares them to do well on the bar exams of any state to which they might travel," Alexander said.