Oklahoma's three law schools say they have made changes to help
more students pass the state bar exam, but the University of
Oklahoma College of Law has led the pack in 16 out of the 23 bar
exams since February 1995.
University of Tulsa College of Law students came out on top six
times. More students from the Oklahoma City University School of Law
passed the bar than those from the other two schools in February
In the most recent midterm bar exam, February of this year, more
TU students passed, at 83 percent, followed by OU at 80 percent and
OCU at 56 percent.
In July 2005, OU's passage rate was 95 percent, TU's 82 percent
and OCU's 75 percent.
This overall passage data includes repeat test-takers.
In February 2004, 2005 and this year, 100 percent of OU's first-
timers passed the bar exam.
On the same exams, TU saw students achieve 80 percent, 87 percent
and, most recently, 97 percent.
At the same midterm exams, OCU law students came in at 72
percent, 64 percent and 71 percent, respectively.
OU College of Law Dean Andrew Coats said that when he took over
as dean 10 years ago, the school's bar-passage rate hovered around
75 percent, which he and other officials thought was not to be
Coats said OU law students are encouraged to take as many bar-
exam subjects as possible but are urged not to start working until
after they take the bar.
I think it's a matter of focus, he said.
Coats said he thinks the quality of students has increased over
In 1996, he said, each entering class totaled about 200 students,
which has since been cut to about 175.
He said OU may receive 1,300 or 1,400 applications for 170 or so
It's getting pretty competitive, he said. We're getting some
pretty good students.
Coats said that OU also limits critical first-year courses to
about 40 students per class.
I think that gives them a lot more attention, he said.
Coats said OU law students also do well on the New York,
California and Texas bar exams.
A number of top OU students do not take the Oklahoma bar, he
Coats said that during his second year as dean, OU rearranged its
curriculum, changing some hours and making constitutional law a
We felt like constitutional law kind of helps you frame all the
other branches of law, he said.
Coats said OU may do more fine-tuning over the next year.
The dean said OU also brings in a University of Arkansas law
professor to tutor students on how to study for the bar exam, which
has been helpful.
Dean Robert Butkin has led TU's law school since June 2005.
Butkin expressed pride in TU students for achieving the overall
top bar exam passage rate of 83 percent in February and for reaching
a similar percentage in the previous two exams.
He said the results not only show that TU students take preparing
for the bar very seriously, but they also reflect curricular and
admission-strategy changes within the law school.
Butkin said that last year TU instituted a program that provides
mandatory sessions with an academic resource specialist during the
first year of law school, to train students in study kills, problem
solving and the like.
Also last year, TU began offering what Butkin termed early bird
bar exam preparation courses in the spring semester of students'
final year of law school.
He said these courses emphasize both the subjects tested on the
multiple-choice multi-state portion of the bar exam, as well as
those tested through questions requiring essay answers. …