More students pass bar

Florida A&M University College of Law has increased their bar exam passing rate for first time test takers by 15 percent since February 2007.

Although the College of Law still has the lowest passing percentage in the state of Florida, the school is excited about the increase.

Leroy Pernell, dean of the college of law, is uplifted about the results.

“I am happy that we have increased our bar passage,” Pernell said. “It’s the highest it’s been since the school reopened.”

The American Bar Association visited the College of Law in February 2007 and denounced the school’s accreditation. At the time of the visit, the school held a 52 percent passing rate.

In a recent interview, FAMU president James Ammons, said the law school is currently his primary focus.

“It is so important to get that full accreditation,” Ammons said.

Pernell said the school’s programs assist students in preparation for the bar exam.

The Bar Success Program focuses on student academic success and bar passage.

“[The Bar Success Program] specializes on necessary skills for taking the exam,” Pernell said.

Students have adapted to the program quickly. Morgan Lea, 20, a first year law student from Greensboro, NC, is one of these students and said she is grateful for the Bar Success Program.

“[It] has been absolutely wonderful, Prof. Parson does a great job,” Lea said.

She said the teachers are easy to communicate with and they cater to the students.

“None of the professors will [just] pass students,” Lea said.

She said law professors encourage their students.

The legal writing program, which is mandatory for law students, has also prepared students for the Bar exams.

“The legal writing program is an important part of success in law school and the bar exam,” Pernell said.

He plans to maintain the programs for student performance growth.

“These results encourage us to keep doing what we’re doing,” Pernell said.

He said that the programs have additional faculty to help with the students’ progression.

Lea said the staff has been a support system since day one.

“During orientation week some of the new professors talked to us,” Lea said. “They told us what they have planned for the class and what they want to see for FAMU.”

The school’s fieldwork program also helps to prepare the students for the bar exam.

“The Clinical Program will educate students in the practical art of lawyering, while providing quality legal representation to underserved individuals and organizations,” said Ann Marie Cavazos, director of the Clinical Program and associate professor.

Cavazos said students develop their legal skills through the program.

“Students gain first-hand insight into the strategies and ethical dimensions of the profession, and acquire valuable legal skills,” Cavazos said.

All of the programs were established before Pernell became dean.

Pernell said the director of the Bar Passage Program joined the staff last fall, and the program has developed since he arrived in January.

He will proceed with the current programs, but he said he’s open for change.

“The curriculum is something that is always up for review,” Pernell said. “We are committed to continuing the Bar Success Program.”

He said he would like more student participation within the Bar Success Program.

“We are not reaching enough of the students,” Pernell said.

Lea said students are committed to their own success.

“All the students are dedicated,” said Lea. “We all want to pass the bar exam.”

Pernell says it is too early to determine if the programs are helpful. The staff is still analyzing if the increase is due to the programs.

“There is certainly a benefit from the program, but we are still looking at the numbers,” Pernell said.