Bar exam blues: Florida pass rate falls again
A scene from a Florida bar exam. Image via Tampa Convention Center.

The upshot: 57.3% passed out of 599 first-time takers.

Like a bad roller coaster, the passage rate for first-time takers of the Florida Bar winter exam has dipped again. 

Results of the February 26-27 examination released Monday by the state’s Board of Bar Examiners show 57.3% passed out of 599 first-time takers — down from last February’s pass rate of 57.9% out of 637 first-time takers. 

The reigning champ of recent pass rates continues to be 80.2% from February 2013, when there were 819 first-timers.

Like many state bar exams, Florida’s is given twice a year: In late February and late July. Both administrations of the test are held at the Tampa Convention Center.

More law students traditionally take the exam in the summer, however, immediately after graduation and bar review. Usually, a smaller number, including those who fail the summer exam, take the bar in the winter.

The number of first-time bar exam takers who passed the July 2018 exam slipped 4 percentage points from the year before, to 67.2 percent from 71.3 percent. Overall, 3,249 people sat for that exam, of which 2,228 were taking it for the first time.

The total of all test-takers for this February was 1,869, with the Florida Supreme Court approving “526 candidates for admission to The Florida Bar on April 15,” according to a news release. 

Chief Justice Charles Canady announced that they may be sworn in, with formal induction ceremonies for the new attorneys to be held at the state’s District Courts of Appeal on Monday, May 6. 

Here are the February 2019 passage rates broken down by individual Florida law school or other category (last February’s pass rates are in parentheses for comparison):

Florida International University (FIU) College of Law – 80% (85%)

University of Florida College of Law – 76.9% (31.8%)

Florida State University College of Law – 75% (76.7%)

Those already admitted to the practice of law elsewhere – 71% (75%)

University of Miami School of Law – 66.7% (56%)

Stetson University College of Law – 58.3% (56%)

Florida Coastal School of Law – 50% (62.1%)

Nova Southeastern University College of Law – 50% (50%)

St. Thomas University College of Law – 48.5% (38.9%) 

Florida A&M University College of Law – 45.5% (36.7%)

Barry University School of Law – 43.3% (41%)

Ave Maria School of Law – 41.2% (84.6%)

Graduates of non-Florida law schools – 33.3% (36.6%)

Statistics for previous exams are here.

Later Monday, FIU Law issued a statement: “For the fourth consecutive time, FIU College of Law graduates have earned the highest first-time bar passage rate among Florida’s 11 law schools.”

The school, opened in 2002, also noted “it is the seventh time in the last eight examinations that FIU law graduates have topped the list.”

“Today’s result speaks to the quality of education and caliber of students at FIU Law,” said Dean Antony Page. “They graduate as better learners, equipped with skills that will help them adapt to evolving professional demands as they advance through their careers.”

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]

One comment

  • David Luther Woodward

    April 16, 2019 at 2:53 pm

    No-one has yet matched the pass rate for the first class at FSU in 1969: 100%; however, it is disheartening to see that so many students apparently are unprepared for the exam–which is not necessarily a reflection of the law school but upon the application of effort while in law school. Motivation counts for something!

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