Florida winter bar exam passage rate now at lowest point in 8 years
A scene from a Florida bar exam. Image via Tampa Convention Center.


How low can we go: The number of first-time Florida Bar takers who pass the February administration of the exam has plummeted to its lowest level in eight years.

Of 751 first-time takers, 433 passed the bar, or 57.7 percent, according to a Monday release from the state’s Board of Bar Examiners.

That’s down from the high pass rate of 80.2 percent in February 2013, when there were 819 first-timers, and the lowest passing percentage for the February exam since 2009.

“Save for a few states, bar passage rates have continued to decline nationwide,” the Above the Law blog reported late last year, noting that California’s July bar exam pass rate was its lowest in 32 years.

Experts have placed the blame on law schools lowering their admission standards to fill seats as the number of applicants continues to decline.

Part of that decline is because full-time lawyer jobs keep dwindling, according to The American Lawyer. Citing U.S. Department of Labor data last week, the website reported “employment in the U.S. legal sector took another hit in March, with the industry losing 1,500 jobs.”

Like many state bar exams, Florida’s is given twice a year, in late February and late July. More law students traditionally take the exam in the summer, however, immediately after graduation and bar review.

A smaller number, including those who fail the summer exam, take the bar in the winter. The total of all test-takers for February was 1,881.

Here are the February 2017 passage rates broken down by individual Florida law schools:

University of Miami School of Law — 80.6 percent

Florida International University College of Law — 78.9 percent

University of Florida College of Law — 66.7 percent

Florida State University College of Law — 59.1 percent

Ave Maria School of Law — 57.9 percent

Nova Southeastern University College of Law — 55 percent

Barry University School of Law — 51.5 percent

Stetson University College of Law — 51.3 percent

Florida A&M University College of Law — 46.2 percent

St. Thomas University College of Law — 44.7 percent

Florida Coastal School of Law — 25 percent

Of first-time test takers who went to law school outside Florida, 41.3 percent passed and lawyers from other states who also want to be licensed in Florida passed by 72.7 percent.

Statistics for previous exams are here.


Jim Rosica

Jim Rosica is the Tallahassee-based Senior Editor for Florida Politics. He previously was the Tampa Tribune’s statehouse reporter. Before that, he covered three legislative sessions in Florida for The Associated Press. Jim graduated from law school in 2009 after spending nearly a decade covering courts for the Tallahassee Democrat, including reporting on the 2000 presidential recount. He can be reached at [email protected]


  • Anonymous

    April 10, 2017 at 4:06 pm

    I don’t think these figures are for first time takers… These are total numbers.

    • Anonymous

      April 11, 2017 at 8:34 am

      No, they are for first time takers only. From the Board of Bar Examiners announcement: “This datum applies to only those persons sitting for both Parts A and B of the examination in Florida for the first time.” The link to the announcement is in the second paragraph.

    • Anon

      April 11, 2017 at 9:43 am

      Sadly, they are for first-timers.

      “These results apply to the February 2017 General Bar Examination administered on February 21-22, 2017 in Tampa, Florida. This datum
      applies to only those persons sitting for both Parts A and B of the examination in Florida for the first time.”

      There were 751 first-timers out of total 1,881.

      Source doc is at: http://www.floridatrend.com/public/userfiles/news/pdfs/PR-Overall-February-2017-bar-exam.pdf

  • Martin Dyckman

    April 11, 2017 at 11:22 am

    It’s noteworthy, I think, that the lowest scores(except for FAMU) were from the non-public, non-state schools, although FSU barely topped them. It seems to me that the ABA should be reconsidering who it accredits. It is a cruelty, bordering on fraud, to admit students whose LSATs are foreboding. Florida Coastal was the poster child in an Atlantic article, “The Law School Scam,” two years ago.

    • Wendy

      April 12, 2017 at 9:51 am

      UM had the highest score and it is private.

  • Michele Vigoda

    April 11, 2017 at 12:06 pm

    Speaks to the lack of quality in Florida education. Starting with the VPK. No quality at any level and the acceptance of Pass Fail ideology. Stupid is as stupid does. I’m not surprised.

  • Wendy

    April 12, 2017 at 9:56 am

    I find it mentally lazy on the part of anyone reviewing this data to conclude that the reason for the decline in scores over the past eight years is because somehow law students have become less qualified. While that may account for a certain amount of decline, perhaps the focus should be on the exam itself? For example, they have added all the UCC courses to the bar and the level of complexity of the questions (especially the essay portion) has increased dramatically. Perhaps this is an example of the bar examiners trying to artificially control the amount of lawyers admitted to practice in this state? That is very troubling.

  • Susan Graf

    April 12, 2017 at 2:18 pm

    Maybe it is because the bar exam has little to do with actually practicing law and the law schools are focused on teaching the students how to practice law. The bar exam is an artificial barrier to getting a license. You should be able to pass the bar exam by passing the three years of law school and not having to shell out another $2000 – $4000 for bar exam courses. I forgot to mention the amount of time you have to study which was for me almost three months.

  • Randy

    April 12, 2017 at 2:57 pm

    It doesn’t surprise me that the Shepard Broad College of Law did poorly. It is a horrible school – horrible program, horrible faculty, horrible dean.

Comments are closed.


Florida Politics is a statewide, new media platform covering campaigns, elections, government, policy, and lobbying in Florida. This platform and all of its content are owned by Extensive Enterprises Media.

Publisher: Peter Schorsch @PeterSchorschFL

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Renzo Downey, Roseanne Dunkelberger, A.G. Gancarski, Anne Geggis, Kelly Hayes, Joe Henderson, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, Scott Powers, Gray Rohrer, Aimee Sachs, Jesse Scheckner, Christine Sexton, Andrew Wilson, and Mike Wright.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @PeterSchorschFL
Phone: (727) 642-3162
Address: 204 37th Avenue North #182
St. Petersburg, Florida 33704

Sign up for Sunburn