Ave Maria Law's Bar Passage Rate Lags Most Florida Schools
The 2010 graduates of the Ave Maria School of Law who took the Florida bar examination in July passed at a rate of 64 percent, well below the average of Florida's 11 law schools. The University of Florida's law school had the highest passage rate, at 86.8 percent, and Florida A&M in Orlando the lowest at 62.5 percent. (Click here for full list)
Published on Tuesday, 21 September 2010 20:50
Eighty-four students graduated from Ave Maria in 2010, and twenty-five took the Florida bar in July with sixteen passing. One Ave Maria student sat for the Florida bar in February and passed. Other students took bar exams in their home states, with many sitting for the bar in Michigan, where the school was located until the fall of 2009. A spokesman for the law school said the school had no comment on the bar exam results. In an email sent to students, faculty and staff, school President and Dean Eugene Milhizer congratulated those who passed but said expressed disappointment in the overall results. He pledged the school would make "serious institutional investment in programming designed to promote academic success and readiness for the bar exam," which he said he hoped would "lead to improved bar exam results – especially now that the various challenges associated with the relocation are behind us."
The law school has a first-year class of 206 students this year, with total enrollment at 476 - an increase of more than 100 students from last year.
The school's director of external affairs, John Knowles, says the quality of the incoming classes has been improving and this year the school's selectivity rate improved to 46 percent - the best in the school's history.
Dean Milhizer said that the increased enrollment has led to "enhanced financial security" which he calls "among the leading positive outcomes we have enjoyed since summer 2009."
"The Law School's finances are very strong and our fundraising results were up in the fiscal year that closed June 30 compared to the past few years," Dean Milhizer said. " We project this trend will continue and grow stronger in the years to come as our student population increases in size and fundraising results continue to improve."
The Ave Maria School of Law has also drawn some national attention recently by becoming the only law school in the United States to agree to provide detailed post-graduate information to a fledgling project that aims to provide better data on employment of law school graduates. The Law School Transparency Project, organized by two law students at Vanderbilt University, sent requests for information to 199 accredited law schools in the United States. Fewer than twenty provided any kind of response and of those, only Ave Maria said it would provide the employment data requested by the project. Co-founder Kyle McEntee said that the data is available, and schools provide much of it to the National Association of Legal Career Professionals, but it is published only in aggregate and not specific to individual schools.
"This is very useful information for some purposes, but not for prospective law students trying to decide which law school to attend," Mr. McEntee said.
In Florida, only one other law school responded directly to the project. The University of Florida said it thought there was room for improvement in the way data was collected and disseminated, but indicated it intended to participate in efforts to improve already-established reporting mechanisms. The Ave Herald asked other Florida law schools and Catholic University of America for their reaction and has heard back from one school - Florida Coastal Law School in Jacksonville - which said it would monitor the Law School Transparency project but had decided whether it would participate.
The Florida July, 2010 bar passage rates:
University of Florida - 86.8 %
Florida State University - 86.2%
University of Miami - 86%
Florida International - 84.2%
Nova Southeastern University - 80.8%
Stetson University - 78.8%
Florida Coastal University - 78.8%
St. Thomas University - 78.7%
Barry University - 74.7%
Ave Maria School of Law - 64%
Florida A&M - 62.5%
A pdf with more detailed statistics, including numbers of applicants from each school, can be downloaded here.