Opening Statements

Little, Green Bar-Pass Machines

Posted Apr 1, 2009 9:10 PM CDT
By Jill Schachner Chanen

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Photo by Kristine A. Strom

Talk about psyching up for a test. When Whittier Law School grads sit for the bar exam, most of them don T-shirts that read: “Do it once. Do it right. Never do it again.” But Paula Manning, the school’s associate dean, says the kelly green shirts weren’t intended to send a message to non-Whittier grads. Instead, they’re a reminder to recent graduates that the school has their back.

In 2005 Whittier faced a possible loss of ABA accred­itation because of a low bar-passage rate. So the school undertook a wholesale revision of its student support programs and added a summer program to help better prepare graduates for the grueling, three-day California bar exam.

Whittier now offers a variety of substantive and legal writing support programs—as well as snacks, 24-hour e-mail support and more—to help grads get through the eight-week post-graduation runup to the exam.

Students also receive the T-shirt and a set of customized pencils to remind them that they are as well-prepared, if not better prepared, than others taking the exam.

So far the program seems to be working. Manning says the school’s bar-pass rate last year was 84.3 percent for first-time takers. “It’s the highest since we were first accredited.” Pysch.


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