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February bar exam pass rate dips to 36.8 percent

Only 36.8 percent of the would-be lawyers who took the February bar exam passed, the lowest pass rate in three years, the Committee of Bar Examiners announced last month.

Of the 5,167 applicants, 1,900 passed. If they satisfy other requirements for admission, they will become members of the State Bar, bringing its total membership to more than 212,000.

The committee also reported that 47.6 percent (181 of 380) of the lawyers who took the attorneys' exam passed. That is the lowest pass rate for the February attorneys' exam since 1989. The exam is open to lawyers who have been admitted to active practice in good standing in another jurisdiction for at least four years.

Preliminary statistical information showed that 30.2 percent of applicants who took the general bar exam were first-timers; of those, 53 percent passed. The pass rate for repeaters was 30 percent.

Those who attended ABA-accredited law schools in California also had the most success among all applicants, with a 61 percent success rate among first-timers and a 39 percent pass rate among repeaters.

The three-day bar exam consists of three sections, a multiple choice Multistate Bar Examination, six essay questions and two performance tests that assess a potential lawyer's ability to apply general legal knowledge to practical tasks.

The next bar exam will be administered in July.

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