KU Law is 11th in nation for first-time bar exam pass rate

Bar pass rates for the top 15 schools in 2021. A text version of this graph is available in the story below.

LAWRENCE — Graduates of the University of Kansas School of Law who took the bar exam for the first time in 2021 had one of the highest success rates in the country.

KU Law posted the 11th-highest first-time bar exam pass rate nationally, according to an analysis by Reuters. Nearly 96% of KU Law graduates who took a bar exam for the first time during the 2021 calendar year passed, according to data recently released by the American Bar Association.

Other law schools posting pass rates in the top 15 include Harvard, New York University, Yale, the University of Chicago and Duke. KU is one of the few schools in the top 15 to be consistently recognized as a “Best Value Law School” by National Jurist magazine.

“As an institution, we have focused on removing obstacles for, and investing in, our students through donor-funded bar exam preparation and other programs,” said Stephen Mazza, dean of the School of Law. “It’s encouraging to see that, when coupled with the outstanding determination exhibited by the Class of 2021, we have been able to achieve outstanding outcomes.”

KU Law’s Free Bar Prep Program offers all students a post-graduation Themis Bar Review course that includes a simulated bar exam. The bar prep program also includes a first-year diagnostic exam that tests students’ understanding of core concepts, a bar exam preparation course for credit during the spring of their third year and assistance from the law school’s director of bar preparation when studying for the bar. KU Law graduates who took the bar exam in 2021 were in the first class to participate in all three years of the Free Bar Prep Program.

Alumni gifts support the Free Bar Prep Program, making it possible for KU Law to be one of a few law schools nationally to offer a commercial, post-graduation bar review course at no cost to students.

In Missouri, 100% of KU Law graduates who took the Missouri bar exam for the first time in 2021 passed. KU Law’s 100% pass rate was 17.8% above the Missouri average of 82.2% for first-time test takers.

In Kansas, 98.2% of KU Law first-time test takers passed the Kansas bar exam in 2021, placing the school 20.4% above the Kansas average. The state’s overall first-time pass rate was 77.8%.

Bar passage reports generated by the American Bar Association from 2021 and previous years are available on the KU Law website.

The bar examination is a test intended to determine whether candidates are qualified to practice law in a given jurisdiction. The bar exam is administered twice a year – in February and July – in most jurisdictions. Most students graduate in May and take the summer exam. Commercial bar preparation courses typically cost several thousand dollars.

First-time bar pass rates in 2021: Top 15 law schools

The table below shows the percentage of graduates from each law school who took and passed a bar examination for the first time during the 2021 calendar year. Data is from the American Bar Association’s 2021 First Time Taker Bar Pass Data.

First-time bar exam pass rates in 2021: Law schools with the highest pass rates
School NameFirst-time bar exam pass percentage
Harvard Law School99.44%
NYU Law School98.7%
Yale Law School98.14%
University of Chicago Law School97.75%
Duke Law School97.21%
University of Michigan Law School97.18%
Stanford Law School97.08%
Columbia Law School96.52%
University of Pennsylvania Law School96.46%
BYU Law School96.15%
University of Kansas School of Law95.92%
University of Minnesota Law School95.67%
Vanderbilt Law School95.15%
Northwestern University Law School95.05%
University of Southern California School of Law95%

Graph illustration: Percentage of graduates who took and passed the bar exam for the first time in 2021. Data is from the American Bar Association’s 2021 First Time Taker Bar Pass Data.