Carolina Law No. 9 in Bar Passage and No. 15 in Employment out of 196 Law Schools, According to ABA Data

June 30, 2021
No. 9
Bar Passage
No. 15
Employment at 10 months

UNC School of Law lands at No. 9 for bar exam passage and No. 15 for 10-month employment for the Class of 2020 out of 196 law schools according to data collected by the American Bar Association (ABA).

“Achieving these bar passage and employment numbers takes commitment, time, perseverance and dedication from every single person at the law school including our students, faculty, staff and alumni,” says Martin H. Brinkley ’92, dean and Arch T. Allen Distinguished Professor of Law. “Carolina Law has proven time and again that our commitment to excellence and accessibility leads to opportunities for students to choose a career path they are passionate about,  that is also successful and fulfilling.”

Each spring, ABA-accredited law schools must report information regarding bar passage and 10-month employment data for the class that graduated the previous spring.

Class of 2020 Bar Passage (PDF)

Class of 2020 Employment Outcomes (PDF)

Once the data is publicly posted, ABA-accredited law schools are required to post the reports on their websites. The data is also available on the ABA Standard Disclosures website.

Bar Passage

For members of Carolina Law’s Class of 2020, who spent the last part of their legal education in a mostly virtual format, 97.06% of first-time test takers passed the bar earning the No. 9 spot in the country for highest bar passage. Carolina Law graduates took the bar in 21 jurisdictions. Just over half the Class of 2020 took the North Carolina bar exam (55.8%). Other jurisdictions included Georgia, Maryland, District of Columbia, New York, Florida, Virginia, California and Illinois among others.

“Preparing for the bar exam is always a challenging time,” says O.J. Salinas, director of the Academic Excellence Program and clinical professor of law. “But the Class of 2020 prepared for and took the bar exam under some very challenging circumstances. And they rocked it! They were flexible. They were resilient. They were advocates. They were tired. Yet, they rocked the bar exam.”

The majority of the Class of 2020 had already taken at least one semester of Carolina Law’s intensive for-credit Applied Legal Concepts course during their 3L year. This course provides a review of the substantive law tested on the Multistate Bar Examination and gives students numerous opportunities to answer practice questions and assess their understanding of the substantive law prior to the traditional start of summer bar preparation.

“On top of our curricular offerings, because of COVID and quarantine, we had to explore different ways of providing summer bar support over an unusually extended period of time. We created multiple recorded substantive and test-taking bar support workshops that we circulated to the Class of 2020 online. We provided individual and group online bar support office hours. We tried to keep up with all the changes in examination dates and the substantive format for the exams that the jurisdictions implemented last year, so that we could help our students succeed on the bar exam,” says Salinas.

Top Nine Law Schools for Bar Passage
Harvard University/Yale University (tied)
University of Minnesota
University of Virginia
Stanford University
New York University
University of Chicago
Duke University
UNC School of Law

10-Month Employment

For employment in bar passage-required and JD-advantage jobs at 10 months from graduation, Carolina Law’s Class of 2020 achieved 91.4% graduates employed and was No. 15 in the country.

“The team in the Career Development Office did a wonderful job adjusting to the challenges brought about by the pandemic,” says Rob Birrenkott, assistant dean for career development. “That does not mean it was easy… but it is a testament to the dedication and hard work of the team members who ensured our students were successful. Students also received a tremendous amount of support from faculty, alumni, and our employer partners.”

This was critical to furthering students’ professional development, he says.

 “The jobs Carolina Law graduates obtained were nearly even distributed among a variety of public service positions, private firms with over 100 lawyers, and private firms with less than 100 lawyers,” Birrenkott says. “Graduates were evenly split in terms of whether they began their careers in North Carolina or out of state. This illustrates the power of a Carolina Law degree to open doors in a wide range of career paths and geographic locations.”

Top 15 Law Schools for Employment 10 Months After Graduation
Columbia University
University of Pennsylvania
University of Chicago
University of Virginia
Texas A&M University
University of Alabama
University of Michigan
University of Iowa
University of Kentucky
Duke University
Wake Forest University
Cornell University
Harvard University
Washington University
UNC School of Law