UCI's First Law School Class Has a Better Cali Bar Exam Passage Rate Than All But Stanford

The end of our October blog post on University of California at Irvine School of Law students helping Nigerian activists present a case to the U.S. Supreme Court mentioned that the local school has its critics.

The blasts to the law school and its founding dean, Erwin Chemerinsky, began in 2009, but as we begin 2013 it is the noted constitutional scholar who seems to have gotten the last laugh.

In July, 90 percent of UCI School of Law's first graduating class passed the bar exam, a rate higher than every other California law school except Stanford's, reports the Daily Journal. There were 55 UCI exam takers compared with 111 from Stanford, where 94 percent passed.

Keep in mind that Benjamin Harrison established Stanford's law school in 1893, when the former president joined the faculty as the first professor of law.

"What this shows is that . . . we are [becoming] one of the elite law schools in the nation," Chemerinsky reportedly crowed to the Journal. (Speaking of Journals, the dean wrote in a Dec. 14 column for the National Law Journal that every state should require pro bono work for bar admission.)

Chemerinsky's "wonderful students" from the first class of "the excellent legal education program we created," as he put it, were famously offered free rides, giving the new school a pinstriped leg up in attracting top-notch talent.

But each successive class received a sliding scale of tuition and fee assistance--as in sliding up--until the school arrived at the current rate (as of October): $47,000 annually for resident students and $53,000 for non-residents.

Above the Law "scamblogger" Paul Campos finds those rates excessive and the need for another law school in the Golden State non-existent, seconding an emotion UCLA law school professor Stephen Bainbridge had made in a 2009 blog post titled "Kill UC Irvine Law." (More on this here: UCI Law School Professor and Students Fight for Nigerian Activists in U.S. Supreme Court.)

Irvine does not have the only Orange County law school that can brag about the July passage rates. Only a larger percentage of Stanford, UCI, UCLA, USC, Pepperdine and UC Berkeley first-timers passed the bar exam than did grads from Orange's private Chapman University, which boasted an 82 percent success rate. That put Chapman in Cali's upper echelon, ahead of such schools as Loyola (79 percent), UC Davis (79 percent) and San Diego (78 percent).

Orange County's Western State and Whittier law schools also had 79 percent pass, which was better than the University of the Pacific's McGeorge Law School in Sacramento (73 percent), where two notable Orange County Scotts, Scott Baugh and Scott Boras, got their evil starts.

The OC schools also surpassed the law school at my alma mater (gulp!), the mighty University of La Verne. With 53 percent, at least some Sweet Leos passed, which A) was better than three California law schools that did not have a single exam taker pass; and, 2.) means I'll have someone to call should, say, a former GOP candidate sue my ass for $75 million.

The Daily Journal is a subscription-only site; click here for a link that allows you to download a PDF version of the story.

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