July 2009 California Bar Results Press Release

Below is how the California's Bar Examiners summarized the results of the July 2009 exam. What strikes me as interesting is that first-timers passed at a rate of 70%, which actually means the exam is only slightly harder than average for first-time takers. Furthermore, people who attended California ABA schools passed at 79%, which is a pretty typical pass rate on most bar exams. It is the repeaters who skew the results, with a pass rate of only 22%.

Also interesting is that 8,667 people took the examination in July 2009, and 4,888 people passed and will almost certainly be sworn in as attorneys. This is mind-boggling. There are no where near enough jobs in the profession for all these people. Still, congratulations to all who passed. If you did not pass, check out this post for some food for thought.


San Francisco, November 20, 2009 — The State Bar of California's Committee of Bar Examiners reported today that 56.4 percent of the applicants passed the July 2009 General Bar Examination (GBX). If the 4,888 people who passed the July 2009 exam satisfy other requirements for admission, they will become members of the State Bar.

July 2009 Bar Exam Results

California Bar Exam Information & History

California Bar Exam Pass Rate Summaries

Preliminary statistical analyses show that of the 8,667 applicants who took the GBX, 71.0 percent were first-time takers. The passing rate for 6,152 first-time applicants was 70.0 percent overall. The passing rate for the 2,515 applicants repeating the examination was 22.0 percent overall.

Preliminary statistical analyses show the first-time and repeater percent passing the GBX (rounded to whole numbers) by law school type as follows:

School Type First-Timers Repeaters
California ABA 79% 31%
Out-of-State ABA 69% 27%
CA (but not ABA) Accredited 32% 12%
Unaccredited:Fixed Facility 4% 10%
Unacredited:Correspondence/Distance Learning 32% 11%
All Others 44% 20%
All Applicants 70% 22%

The applicants not included in the above totals either were attorneys admitted in other states who either chose or were required to take the GBX, attorneys admitted in foreign jurisdictions, law students in the Law Office/Judge's Chambers Study Program or law students who qualified to take the GBX through four years of law study. More detailed statistics, including passing rates by individual law schools, will be made available in approximately four to six weeks and published on the State Bar's Web site at

The three-day General Bar Examination is given twice a year, in February and July. The exam consists of three sections: a multiple-choice Multistate Bar Examination (MBE), six essay questions and two performance tests that are designed to assess an applicant's ability to apply general legal knowledge to practical tasks. The mean scaled MBE score in California was 1462 compared with the national average of 1445.

In addition, the Committee announced that 107 (32.5 percent) of the 329 lawyers who took the Attorneys' Examination passed. The Attorneys' Examination, which consists of the essay and performance test sections of the GBX, is open to lawyers who have been admitted to the active practice of law in good standing for at least four years in another United States jurisdiction.

Successful applicants who have satisfied other requirements for admission - those who have not been reported by local district attorneys for being in arrears with family or child support payments, who have received a positive moral character determination and who have passed the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination - may either take the Attorney's Oath individually or participate in admissions ceremonies held throughout the state during December 2009.

[CLICK HERE for the same story on the Cal bar website.]


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