Of 267 first-timers, 171 passed. Of repeat test-takers, 185 of 365 made the grade. At last check, 312 of the 356 successful applicants had also passed the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination and completed all other requirements for bar admission.
Regarding in-state law schools, the results didn’t shuffle the top-to-bottom standings much from last year, but a couple of schools did show a marked improvement in their pass rates.
Duke was the biggest mover, percentage-wise, though it only sat nine test-takers. Its 100 percent pass rate improved on last year’s 66.7 percent.
The University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill had the second-highest pass rate, with 75.61 percent of its lawyer hopefuls making the grade. Its biggest boost came from its repeat examinees, which scored a 73.91 percent pass rate, versus just 47.1 percent a year ago.
Jack Boger, dean of the UNC School of Law, said that while he’s cautious in viewing bar results from one year to the next — especially February’s — UNC has instituted in recent years new programs including individualized support beginning in the second semester of the first year and tailored third-year courses geared to “reinforce and deepen understanding of key legal doctrines and modes of analysis,” as well as voluntary bar prep courses and tutoring.
He said staff members reach out to both current students who need extra assistance and graduates who’ve had issues with the bar exam.
“In sum, we’ve invested time, financial resources, and some of our finest professors in this work, believing that virtually everyone admitted to UNC Law School is capable of passing the North Carolina bar and becoming a fine lawyer,” he said
Rounding out the top three, Wake Forest posted a 70 percent pass rate, up from 57.9 percent in 2013.
Last year, Campbell led the field with a pass rate of 77.8 percent while this year’s crop of test-takers placed fourth among North Carolina schools at 66.67 percent. Though its pass rate was down slightly, the Raleigh-based law school managed to climb five spots in U.S. News & World Report’s ranking of ABA-approved law schools, climbing to No. 121. Last year was its first foray into the rankings after 37 years of existence.
Sha Hinds-Glick, academic support and bar success director at Campbell, credited a challenging curriculum and hard-working students for the school’s sustained achievement. She said they rarely see an open-book exam and that the long hours and dedication required to memorize the law is second nature to them.
“Campbell offers our students an intense essay writing course, in addition to the traditional bar review courses, to provide the practice and feedback to help prepare them for the exam,” Hinds-Glick said. “This is a very ambitious program in the hours and manpower it takes to pull it off, but the students benefit greatly from it. I am often asked what our bar exam secret is, but really it comes down to hard work in the practical areas.”
North Carolina law schools — including Charlotte School of Law (56.03 percent), Elon (55 percent) and North Carolina Central (51.67 percent) — combined for a 60.36 pass rate.
North Carolina Central finished with the lowest pass rate among in-state schools (51.67 percent), but that was an improvement over last year’s 35.7 percent. Both first-timers and repeaters fared better.
Messages seeking comment from officials at North Carolina Central University were not immediately returned.
Follow Heath Hamacher on Twitter @NCLWHamacher
Results of February 2014 North Carolina Bar Exam
Testers Passed Rate
Total 632 356 56.33 percent
First time 267 171 64.04 percent
Repeat 365 185 50.68 percent
Testers Passed Rate
Campbell 27 18 66.67 percent
Charlotte 141 79 56.03 percent
Duke 9 9 100 percent
Elon 40 22 55 percent
NC Central 60 31 51.67 percent
UNC 41 31 75.61 percent
Wake Forest 20 14 70 percent