At the beginning of this summer, close to a few-hundred would-be attorneys took the New Mexico Bar Exam with hopes of passing the rigorous test to become a licensed practitioner of law. The New Mexico Board of Bar Examiners (NMBBE) just released the results of the test and it shows a dramatic increase in the understanding of the material presented in the newly adopted, more challenging assessment.

The passage rate for the exam was 83 percent. This pass rate is not only higher than the pass rates from recent administrations of the Uniform Bar Exam (UBE)—a newer, more challenging test used to make law licenses more portable across state lines—but it also showed pass rates consistent with pre-UBE exams last given in 2014.

Of the 197 examinees in July 2017, 163 achieved a passing score.

“Our school’s first-time passage rate on the July 2017 exam was 91 percent, which greatly exceeds our stated goal of getting up to 80 percent by 2018. We are very pleased with the hard work of our faculty, staff, and students,” says The University of New Mexico School of Law Co-Dean, Sergio Pareja. 

New Mexico’s overall pass rate increased by 19 percentage points. The first-time takers pass rate increased by 18 percentage points. The UNM School of Law Co-Deans Alfred Mathewson and Sergio Pareja had formerly announced that through the combined efforts of many at the School, including the formation of a Bar Passage Taskforce, the School would strive to raise the first-time pass rate to 80 percent or higher by 2018. 

The School’s Bar Passage Taskforce was chaired by former Law School Dean and Professor Emeritus, Leo Romero. The taskforce was given the charge of making recommendations to the faculty and coordinating efforts and recommendations with the School’s Curriculum Committee with respect to teaching and requirements related to bar passage and preparedness for the UBE.

In addition, the School of Law undertook immediate steps to support the needs of their students related to their preparedness for the Exam. These included:

  • Offering two 1-credit, pass/fail bar strategies courses.
  • Providing a free commercial bar strategies supplement.
  • Increasing private support and offering funds for students who needed help covering the cost of a commercial bar course.
  • Increasing discussions with students regarding testable subjects and related course planning.
  • Providing opportunities for students to hear from bar exam graders.
  • Providing opportunities for the Executive Director of the New Mexico Board of Bar Examiners (NMBBE) to speak with students.
  • Presenting lectures and discussions regarding testable subjects provided by practice area experts.
  • Collaborating with the State Bar of New Mexico’s Committee on Diversity in the Profession to offer a mentorship program to examinees.