Bar examination passage rates for Tennessee colleges were released by the Tennessee Board of Law Examiners with the Belmont University College of Law leading the state at 87 percent and Vanderbilt at nearly 84 percent.
The College of Law graduated its second class only last year.
“I was gratified at all the hard work by the students and by the faculty to produce this kind of outcome,” said Judge Alberto Gonzales, Dean and Doyle Rogers Distinguished Professor of Law at Belmont.
Gonzales has been at Belmont’s College of Law since it started in the 2010-2011 year.
“I think it’s really significant that after just two years, two classes, that we not only lead the state in bar passage rates, but exceed the state average by 15 points,” he said.
The bar exam sets a great responsibility for not only the student, but the school and its faculty as well. In the beginning, most students probably won’t be focusing on a school’s bar passage rate, Gonzales said. Most likely, they would be more concerned with where the school is located — if it’s in a big city, like Nashville — or how much money it costs to go there.
“But I promise you, as you get toward the end of the three-year educational cycle, you start thinking more and more about, ‘Ok, I’ve put in three hard years here, but am I going to be able to pass the bar? Have I been adequately prepared by this university, by this law school, to pass the bar?’” Gonzales said.
Therefore, a school’s bar passage rate is a team effort.
Receiving a high passage rate at this point in the school year is timely because, starting next weekend, the American Bar Association is going to make an evaluation of Belmont’s law school for full accreditation.
As of now, the school is under provisional accreditation. To achieve full accreditation, the ABA must visit the school and observe the facilities, faculty, students, curriculum and finances.
Now that the bar passage rates are out, there is no better time for the ABA to come see the level of quality that resides law program at Belmont, Gonzales said.
This article was written by Max Mason.