The Duquesne University School of Law achieved an 84.25% first-time pass rate on the July 2021 Pennsylvania bar exam administered remotely for the second time in the Commonwealth's history due to continuing COVID-19 challenges.
This result places Duquesne Law third among 11 law schools in the state/Pennsylvania area. The law school devoted significant time, resources and physical space for its bar takers this administration because of the continued stresses of administering a timed and secure attorney-licensing examination during an ongoing global pandemic.
"These test results serve to highlight our law school's incredible ability to prepare our graduates for what comes next in their lives and careers," Duquesne School of Law Dean April Barton said. "We all pulled together in an extraordinary way-our alumni, faculty, staff and graduates-to make this administration of the bar examination as stress-free as it could possibly be given that more than 70 of our graduates took the exam right here in our law school. We could not be more pleased that our graduates met with this degree of success."
Despite technology issues experienced across the country this year, Duquesne graduates' scores reflected their extensive preparation and were competitive with other top law programs in the state, said Duquesne Director of Bar Studies Ashley London.
"Imagine your computer screen going blank during the highest-stakes examination of your entire life," London said. "Our graduates pulled through with a degree of fortitude that really illustrates the kind of cool-headed leadership they will demonstrate as licensed attorneys. I am so proud their hard work and preparation paid off."
Some highlights from the Pennsylvania results include:
Duquesne's first-time pass rate of 84.25% outpaced the statewide average of 77.22% for all first-time takers.
This marks the sixth consecutive year the law school has outperformed the state average.
Duquesne's overall pass rate of 80% significantly exceeded the statewide overall passage rate of 69.43%.
For both first-time takers, Duquesne law graduates finished ahead of the University of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania State University, Pennsylvania State University-Dickinson and Temple University.
Duquesne law graduates performed extraordinarily well in other jurisdictions in the July 2021 administration of the bar examination as well. Twenty-six graduates from May 2021 sat for the bar examination in 16 different jurisdictions, including West Virginia, North Carolina, Missouri, New Mexico and New Hampshire. Each of those jurisdictions boast a 100% bar pass rate with one to three bar takers sitting in each.
"Our graduates pass the bar examination in whatever jurisdiction they choose to sit," said London. "Our programming is designed to help all of our graduates meet their long-term personal and professional goals."
In the Winter 2021 edition of prelaw Magazine, Duquesne was recognized as one of the top law schools in the country whose graduates outperformed other law schools in terms of its bar passage metrics. Bar-passage rates are "the single best outcome measure...in assessing whether a law school is maintaining a rigorous program of legal education,'" according to the American Bar Association (ABA).
Since February 2018, the ABA requires law schools to report their "ultimate bar passage rates," which track law school graduates for a period of two years or four bar exam cycles (July and February). In 2018, the School of Law reported an ultimate bar passage rate of 93.3% for its class of 2016, placing Duquesne ahead of other Pennsylvania law graduates in terms of bar passage rates.