As reported by The State Bar of California in the December Bar Journal, 54.8 percent of those who took the bar exam in July passed, down from the 56.4 percent passage rate for July 2009. If the 4,690 successful test takers satisfy other requirements for admission, they will become members of the State Bar, bringing the number of California lawyers to more than 232,000.

The pass rate for the July exam had been steadily rising since July 2004, when it hit a low point of 48.2 percent, until 2008, when it peaked at 61.7 percent. The pass rate was 48.8 percent in 2005, 51.8 in 2006 and 56.1 percent in 2007. But it dipped last year and again this year.

The results also showed that students who attended an ABA-accredited law school in California and took the exam the first time had the best chance of passing — 75 percent — followed by out-of-state ABA-accredited schools (68 percent). Students who attended California-accredited schools had a pass rate of 40 percent, a significant jump from last year’s 32 percent pass rate.

The number of applicants also declined, from 8,667 in 2009 to 8,562 last July. Seventy-one percent — 6,084 — were first-time test takers and they scored a pass rate of 68 percent. The pass rate for the 2,478 repeaters was 22 percent.

The results also showed that students who attended an ABA-accredited law school in California and took the exam the first time had the best chance of passing — 75 percent — followed by out-of-state ABA-accredited schools (68 percent). Students who attended California-accredited schools had a pass rate of 40 percent, a significant jump from last year’s 32 percent pass rate.

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.

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