November 13, 2015

Cornell Law School Sees Highest Bar Exam Pass Rate in State

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Cornell Law School boasts the highest pass rate of the July 2015 New York bar exam — 96.6 percent, a two percent increase from last year, according to New York Law Journal.


Cornell’s law school saw a 96.6 percent pass rate of the July 2015 New York bar exam, the highest in the state. (Victoria Gao / Sun File Photo)

For the past two years, Cornell has had the highest pass rate in the state, even as the statewide pass rate hit an all time low since 2004, at 79 percent. In 2008, the law school’s pass rate reached a record high of 99 percent.

Eduardo Peñalver ’94, dean of the law school, said Cornell has always had an impressive pass rate, even while the rate naturally fluctuates year to year.

“Our pass rate has been consistently strong, and that’s because our admissions standards and our students are smart and hardworking,” Peñalver said. “I think this is within the range of what we are accustomed to, there’s always some variability year to year.”

Peñalver said the law school did not make any internal changes to promote a higher bar pass rate and that the school’s admissions standards have remained rigorous.

“We haven’t changed anything, we are continuing to just admit a really strong group of students,” he said. “Even in a down year, our pass rate is going to be at the top end of the N.Y. law schools.”

According to Peñalver, Cornell Law School remains committed to accepting only strong candidates even as law schools nationally are seeing fewer applicants in recent years.

“In an environment where applications to law schools are overall down, recruiting students at the caliber we’re recruiting at is a challenge but is something we’re committed to doing,” he said. “Other law schools have made different decisions and I think you would expect to see some decline in their bar passage.”

Nathan Baum grad, who passed the bar in July, credited Cornell’s strong program with his success on the exam.

“I don’t know why the increase happened and I’d have to compare it to last year’s results, but I’d imagine that Cornell successfully prepared its graduates to pass the bar exam,” Baum said. “I’m not sure why other schools might be declining.