Associate Dean of the School of Law Lumen Mulligan said preparation courses proved to be related to successful bar exam passage rates, per a study conducted by the School of Law. Cost quickly became a barrier for students, with costs increasing over the past few years – at upwards of $3,000, according to Mulligan.
“It can be very expensive,” Mulligan said. “Our students who take a job with large private firms tend to have those law firms pay for those programs, but our students who go into government service or the non-profit sector or a very small firm don’t have that same sort of private firm assistance.”
University graduates who took bar exam preparation courses through Themis Bar Review all passed the July 2018 bar exam on their first attempt, according to a University press release. Mulligan said passing the exam the first go around is substantially important for graduates – especially since the exam is only given once in February and once in July each year.
“The school stands behind and supports students who have to take it a second time,” Mulligan said. “Those people can go on to be wonderful attorneys. But, it’s an easier transition to pass it the first time. You can’t get that bar-required job until you can have that bar license.”
Additional program benefits start while students are still in law school. An extended, semester-long bar preparation course will be offered for students like Chris Carey, who is in his third and final year of law school.
“We’ll get to practice doing essay responses that will be on the bar, so that’s a great opportunity as well,” Carey said.
This course is in addition to the free, post-graduation preparation courses. Carey said he is glad he no longer has to worry about finding ways to cover the costs of preparation courses after graduation.
Quentin Aker, a second-year student, in the School of Law, has taken advantage of another opportunity available through this new program: free preparation courses for the Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam. The MPRE is an exam students have to take before they are able to sit for the bar exam, Aker said.
“It’s super helpful and it’s just nice that it alleviates the financial burden of worrying how you’re going to get the cost of bar preparation covered,” Aker said. “It just takes the stressor off.”
December 2018 law school graduates will be the first to utilize the free bar exam preparation program, which is funded by the school’s alumni network. By being funded through alumni, Mulligan said this program shows students how the school plugs them into a robust community that helps one another.
In addition, the program reminds students that the school is dedicated to making investments in student success, he said. The real importance of the program, Mulligan said, lies in the hands of prospective students.
“I’m going to be very aggressive: this is a reason to come to KU Law School,” Mulligan said. “It’s a financial reason, but it says something about our culture.”
Overall, Mulligan said the reaction from current students has been “exceptionally positive.”
Emma Easom, a first-year law student, said it was a very pleasant surprise to find out the cost of her bar exam preparation courses were covered financially.
“It kind of relieves any stress that I had, that I can definitely just take it and it will be there for me when I graduate,” Easom said. “It’s like a light at the end of a tunnel.”