FSU Law grads No. 1 in passing Florida Bar; college tops ranks for Hispanic students

Don Weidner

Florida State University College of Law graduates had the highest passing rate on this summer’s Florida Bar exam. This is the fifth of the past 10 bar exams in which Florida State graduates outranked the other nine law schools in the state.

FSU graduates taking the July 2006 General Bar Examination test for the first time passed by a rate of 88.1 percent, according to statistics released Monday by the Florida Board of Bar Examiners. Florida State’s nearest competitor was the University of Miami, which had an 85.7 percent passing rate. The exam was administered July 25-26 in Tampa to 2,410 first-time takers, including 185 from Florida State. The overall passing rate of graduates statewide taking the exam for the first time was 75.1 percent.

"We are all thrilled," said College of Law Dean Don Weidner. "The credit, of course, goes to our May graduates."

Passing rates for other Florida law school graduates were: University of Florida, 81.2 percent; Stetson, 81 percent; Florida International, 79 percent; Florida Coastal, 75.4 percent; Nova Southeastern, 74.9 percent; Barry University of Orlando, 72 percent; St. Thomas, 63.1 percent; Florida A&M, 56.3 percent. Graduates of non-Florida law schools passed at a rate of 71.6 percent. Score results were mailed to candidates on Monday.

The bar exam results came on the heels of the news last week that the tax law faculty at Florida State is one of the nation’s 15 most downloaded tax faculty on the Social Science Research Network. No other Florida law school is in the Top 15.

In other recent news, the College of Law again has been named one of the Top 10 law schools in the nation for Hispanics. The law school jumped from tenth to sixth place in an annual ranking by Hispanic Business magazine. The rankings appear in the magazine’s September issue.

The magazine surveyed law schools accredited by the American Bar Association and ranked them based on the percentage of Hispanic students enrolled, the percentage of full-time Hispanic faculty, services for Hispanic students, Hispanic recruitment efforts and retention rates, quality of education and reputation. Reputation was based on the U.S. News & World Report rankings of the nation’s law schools in that magazine’s Best Graduate Schools edition.

The magazine praised Florida State in particular for hosting programs and events geared toward recruiting Hispanics and for striving to provide a supportive environment for current students. Organizations such as the Spanish American Law Student Association, Cuban American Student Association and Puerto Rican Student Association provide mentoring and peer support for Hispanic students.

For the 2005-06 academic year, Hispanics made up 8 percent of the school’s 772 student body enrollment and received 19 of the 274 law degrees awarded to the class of 2006.

"Clearly, our overall program strength and reputation for academic excellence has caused us to be higher in the rankings than schools with a higher Hispanic enrollment," said Dean Don Weidner.