May 20, 2008

Law school graduates perform well on bar exams

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Southern Illinois University School of Law graduates continue to perform well when taking the state bar exams in Illinois and Missouri for the first time.

Ninety-two percent, or 11 of the 12 SIU law school graduates who took the Illinois State Bar exam in February, passed the examination, compared to the statewide average of 86 percent. The overall pass rate -- first time and repeat takers -- for the law school is 83 percent, 15 of 18 graduates, compared with Illinois' overall pass rate of 76 percent.

In Missouri, meanwhile, 87.5 percent, or seven of the eight SIU law school graduates who took that state's test for the first time in February, passed the examination. Overall, nine of 10 SIU law school graduates who took the bar exam in Missouri passed.

"We are very proud of our alumni. We have enjoyed considerable success on most of the bar exams in recent years," Dean Peter C. Alexander said. "I think it's a testament to the level of instruction that our students receive and the academic support that my colleague Suzanne Schmitz leads.

"The students who attend our law school will find that they receive a first-class education at a very, very reasonable price," he said. "Success on the bar exams is one measure of that success."

Schmitz, an assistant professor in the law school, coordinates the law school's academic success program, which is part of the law school's academic enhancement program.

The academic success program is an additional free bar preparation program that includes workshops and simulated essay exams. 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 may 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.