Category Archives: Bar Exam

The February Bar

The bar exam is administered twice a year throughout the country–in February and July.  The large majority of our graduates sit for the bar exam in July following graduation.  A small number of our students graduate a semester early and sit for the exam in February.

We have graduates that sit for bar exams throughout the country, but most sit for the exam in California.  The California exam is statistically the most difficult to pass.  Our pass rates have been very strong, but there is no school in California that escapes the reality that some of its graduates will be unsuccessful on their first attempt at the exam at each administration.  Because the bulk of graduates sit for the exam the first time in July, that means that most of our repeaters sit for the exam in February.  We have a very strong repeater pass rate as well.

All this to get to the point that the February exam has been going on this week.  The California exam is an eighteen-hour exam spread over three days, and today is the final day of the exam.  Both our first-time takers and repeaters have put in strong work and will be very relieved this morning to have this difficult exam behind them.

Congratulations to our February bar exam takers!  I am so proud of them.  Please keep them in your thoughts and prayers as they wait until mid-May for the results to be released.


Best Schools for Bar Exam Preparation

It was good to see Pepperdine listed on a chart indicating the top schools in an article titled, “Best Schools for Bar Exam Preparation.”  The article was published in the most recent edition of The National Jurist magazine

You can see the chart HERE.


The first week of the spring semester comes to a close today.  We are off and running.  Personally, I began the week in snowy D.C. and hit the ground running on my return to sunny L.A.  It has been a breathless week to what promises to be a breathless semester.  I am excited by the prospect of a weekend and look forward to getting into a real routine next week.

To close off this week, I thought I would share something I wrote following the Bar Admissions Ceremony at the law school in December.  I like to write somewhat inspirational essays such as this, although I don’t take the time to do it often enough.  I received positive feedback at the time, so I thought I might share it with all of you:


The word exquisite doesn’t come to my mind very often.

It has been a long day, at the end of a long week. Our students are in final exams, and I feel about that weary, too. I made it to work around half past seven this morning and walked out around half past nine this evening. That isn’t normal, but it isn’t abnormal. Another long day.

But there were some great moments. I served on an important panel judging a Christmas cookie contest for our staff: public service at its most delicious. And tonight, I attended a swearing-in ceremony for our graduates who passed the bar exam. There may not be a happier occasion, and the celebratory hugs and high fives from such special people made my heart happy.

So it was a good, solid, long day.

But it came time to go home. I closed down my office, grabbed my work bags, and headed toward the exit with a weariness that comes with a fourteen-hour work day.

There was music as I walked toward the door.

The law school received a piano as a gift last year, and we have several talented pianists in our community who put it to good use, so this was not surprising. I noticed three first-year students standing on the second floor near the law school entrance, weary from a never-ending battle to learn the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, still at school at half past nine on a Friday evening. They were listening to the music that filled the three-story building emanating from the back corner of the first floor.

I joined their group to listen, too.

I am embarrassed not to know piano tunes. This one was lively and reminded me of a Scott Joplin sort of song. But I don’t know. I do know that the young pianist was into it, and soon, we were too.

Two other law students came out of the library, pulled to the railing by the music.

And we just listened. We all stood quietly, mesmerized, weary, but captivated, and listening.

It was really just a moment. The impromptu performance couldn’t have lasted more than a couple of minutes, but there was a moment somewhere therein, somewhere before the song’s rousing conclusion and the surprising ovation from the six-person audience up in the balcony. It may not have made an impression on anyone else, but it is now well after ten o’clock, and although I am still tired, I had to write about this moment because I don’t want to forget it.

It was exquisite.

Some moments are worth the trouble of life. And the one tonight, when the intense and elegant music of an artist captivated a group of stranded travelers on a Friday evening, qualifies in my book.

California ABA Schools and the July 2014 California Bar Exam

The school-by-school results of the July 2014 California Bar Exam were released over our semester break.  Once again, we had the 7th highest pass rate among the 21 ABA-approved California law schools.  Professor Caron, as always, published a great summary of the results on his blog.

Here is the list:

1. UC-Berkeley (88)
2. Stanford (88)
3. USC (87)
4. UC-Davis (86)
5. UCLA (82)
6. Loyola (80)
7. Pepperdine (78)
8. UC-Irvine (77)
9. Chapman (75)
10. University of San Diego (73)
11. Cal Western (71)
12. UC-Hastings (68)
13. Laverne (66)
14. University of San Francisco (61)
15. McGeorge (61)
16. Santa Clara (60)
17. Western State (59)
18. Southwestern (54)
19. Thomas Jefferson (45)
20. Golden Gate (44)
21. Whittier (43)

Big Day From Start to Finish

Today begins with the 1L class turning in their Open Memo project for their Legal Research & Writing (“LRW”) course.  It is worth 70% of their LRW grade and in some ways can be considered the final exam in that unique course.

Today ends with the release of the results of the July California Bar Exam.  Approximately 140 first-time takers and 15 repeaters from Pepperdine are anxious to receive the news.

Big day, all around.

Day Three


Today is the third and final day of the California Bar Exam.  I am excited to travel to Century City to join yet another set of approximately forty Pepperdine grads for lunch.  For the test-takers, the morning is no fun, and the afternoon is no fun, but at the conclusion of the six hours of testing comes a sense of relief and joy that is almost indescribable.  The end is so close!

Day Two


Today, I will venture to sunny Ontario to share bar exam lunches with another forty of so of our graduates.  I will be joined by Professor Jim Gash and our Director of Events, Morgan Thrower.  It was Professor Gash who proposed the idea for our bar lunch program several years back, and Director Thrower is the true mastermind behind pulling off this impressive program year after year.

Day One


The bar exam begins today.  Each state has a different testing format, but all are this week.  In California, it is a grueling three-day, eighteen-hour exam.  Today is Day One.

There are three testing locations in the Los Angeles area, and for years now, Pepperdine has been the only law school that travels to all three L.A. sites to provide lunches to its graduates.  This is a costly endeavor, but well worth it.  On one hand, it is simply difficult (and stressful) to find lunch when a few thousand anxious test-takers flood out of a convention center looking for food at a few nearby restaurants.  On the other hand, it is worth it to simply be there for our graduates during this stressful time.  Each year, we have volunteers from among our faculty, staff, and administration who travel to each location to just be there and share hugs and lunch with our graduates.

Today, I am traveling to the Pasadena Convention Center along with Professor Hilary Reed to have lunch with around forty of our graduates on their first day of the California Bar Exam.  If you are the praying type, I ask that you keep our bar applicants in your thoughts and prayers.

The Finish Line

The bar exam begins one week from today.  The following is my last blog post sent to our graduates heading down the home stretch:

It is just about time to get this little examination over with and move on with life, how does that sound?

Odds are that you have prepared for this exam more than you have ever prepared for any one thing in your life. As a result, you will be relieved to finally get to it. It will (unbelievably) feel good to start those first morning essays!

So you are past the time for dreading “the bar” – just bring it on, knock it out, and get to the rest of your life!

A few final thoughts:

1. Enjoy a little packing and nesting this weekend. If you have studied at the law school, clean out your locker. When you pack up for the hotel, be sure to read over the “what you can bring into the exam” list and believe that they are serious about enforcing the list.

2. For those staying in hotels, I suggest arriving early. It gets a little crazy when a bunch of bar applicants arrive at the same time prepared to argue with anyone and anything, so I suggest beating the crowd.

3. Once you arrive, take a leisurely walk around the area to get your bearings. Both the walk and the acclimation process are good things.

4. Get plenty of alarms set (wake-up call, cell phone alarm, etc.) – no need to add unnecessary stress by oversleeping!

5. Walk in with confidence. There is a difference between confidence and arrogance, and truth be told, you graduated from a school with a track record on the bar that qualifies you to walk in the room with either one. Arrogance can get you in trouble, though. Instead, walk in knowing that you have everything going for you and are in the top echelon of people truly prepared for the bar exam.

6. Pay attention to your timing. You have practiced this all summer, so it won’t be a problem. Just stay on task.

7. Finally, just do your best no matter what. As a dad, I have always told my daughters that I would be proud of them for doing their best regardless of the final result. The good news for you is that your best on the bar exam promises to produce the result you want.

It has truly been an honor to tag along with you all through the bar preparation process. I look forward to seeing many of you during a lunch break next week, and I especially look forward to the swearing-in ceremony after you accomplish what you set out to accomplish!

You continue to be in my thoughts and prayers, but I have every confidence in you.

Yours to count on,

Faculty Q & A Sessions

The bar exam is just a week away, so today and tomorrow, as is our tradition, many of our faculty members are hosting office hours to answer any and all last minute questions from our graduates coming down the home stretch.  It is always so encouraging to see our faculty turn out in support of our students.  Although the office hours generally aren’t flooded with people at this point in the summer, it is truly the thought that counts.

Here is the schedule:

Monday, July 21:
10am-Noon: Real Property (Saxer)
10am-Noon: Wills & Trusts (Knaplund)
10am-Noon: Cal Civ Pro & Remedies (Schultz)

Monday, July 21:
1pm-3pm: Fed Civ Pro & Prof. Resp. (Baker)

Tuesday, July 22:
10am-Noon: Community Property (Popovich)
10am-Noon: Evidence & Crimes (Chase)
10am-Noon: Torts (Cupp)

Tuesday, July 22:
1pm-3pm: Constitutional Law (McDonald)
1pm-3pm: Contracts (Chen)
1pm-3pm: Corporations (Taha)