Baylor law school graduates get top marks on bar exam

By Maegan Rocio

Staff Writer

Graduates of the Baylor School of Law won top honors for the percentage of first-time test-takers that passed the bar exam this past July. The law school reports that 92.59 percent of law graduates passed the July exam after their first attempt to take the test. The results were released Nov. 1.

Brad Toben, dean of the law school and holder of the M.C. & Mattie Caston Chair of Law, said this accomplishment was achieved because of the students and the programs offered at the law school.

“The success of our students on the bar is attributable to our well-credentialed students, and then we have a program that is very focused on preparing them in what they will encounter in the actual practice of law,” he said. “The school is known for its rigor and sets a high bar for its students. They meet that high standard and we are very proud of them for doing so.”

According to the school of law website, the school has had a consistently high bar passage rate since 2007, compared to the general statewide passing rate.

“No school even comes close to the Baylor law school in regards to success to the bar,” Toben said. “This is true if you look back the past 10, 20 or 30 years.”

Toben said the curriculum offered at the law school is known for its overarching success in teaching students the necessary skills needed in the law field.

“We have a curriculum that is very highly required and very sequenced,” he said. “Our program is very well known for our success in teaching the skill of advocacy.

The students develop this skill set as they progress through the curriculum, including the advocacy program that prepares them for their notable success on the bar exam.”

The Baylor School of Law also ranked fifth in the nation for its trial advocacy courses according to U.S. News Rankings.

Toben said the school also offers a course to third-year law students that offers practice in court trials, which is the principle course offered in the school’s advocacy program.

The main website of the Baylor Law School said the advocacy program establishes the lawyering skills that are necessary for any type of practice.

The advocacy courses at Baylor provide students with a progressional study of fundamental legal doctrine during their first year to more sophisticated and complex topics during their second and third year.

Kyle Funderburk, a 2012 graduate of the law school, said the program greatly attributed to his success. Funderburk passed the July exam with the third-highest score in his class.

“It was critical to my preparation,” he said. “The law program is set up to teach you a lot of the things other laws schools don’t cover. The law school helps you to prepare for things on the bar exam.”

Funderburk said the material on the test did not surprise him at all, due to the variety of courses he took.

Funderburk said he will receive recognition for his score during the swearing-in ceremony Monday in Austin. He said he was informed about his score from an unlikely person.

“The person that actually told me was the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Texas, Wallace Jefferson,” Funderburk said.

Current third-year students at the law school will begin to prepare for the upcoming bar exam held in February 2013.

One of the students, Catherine Cook, a third-year law student from Wiley, said the school’s core classes are helping her to prepare for the future exam.

“They have a particular course of electives related to bar material,” she said. “I try to take as many as possible, so I think it has helped me in preparing for the bar exam.”

Cook said that while she is nervous about the 2013 bar exam, she still feels confident because of the courses she took. Funderburk said the top honors show that the school is dedicated to its students.

“I think the fact that we are consistently the highest bar exam shows how well the Baylor law school prepares students for the bar exam,” he said.