University of Miami Law Tops Florida Bar Pass

Congratulations to the UM Class of 2008, which recorded a stellar bar pass rate on the Florida bar exam. According to the official list, our grads achieved the highest pass rate of all Florida law schools, with a 92.4% pass rate among first-time test-takers. (More bragging at the official UM announcement.)

I've reproduced the full table below, sorted by percentage passing, based on the raw data (sorted by number passing) contained in a .pdf from the Bar Examiners.

But first, a few words of warning: Bar Pass Rates are Over-Rated As A Measure of Law School Quality.

 Number Taking Number Passing Percent Passing U. Miami 236 218 92.4 FIU 64 58 90.6 U. Florida 235 210 89.4 Nova Southeastern 197 169 85.8 FSU 212 181 85.4 Stetson 173 147 85.0 Florida Coastal 192 158 82.3 St. Thomas 135 108 80.0 non-Florida Schools 722 558 77.3 Barry 123 93 75.6 Florida A&M 78 53 67.9 ———- ——— ———- ——— Total 2367 1953 82.5

It would be sort of interesting to extend this table with a column showing percent of class taking the exam, and also percent of class taking out of state exams.

The percent in-state vs. out-of-state tells you something about how national/regional/local the law school is. A large number taking no bar at all raises the question whether the law school is steering some students away from the summer bar exam in order to prop up its statistics, although there are also other very innocuous explanations. It may be that many students go on to LL.Ms and put off the bar, or that the school prepares them for other sorts of careers. The no-bar-anywhere number only raises a question, rather than answering it.

The first number is probably easy to get, but I don't know about the second. We graduated 442 JD's last year, making the 236 Florida test takers just 53.3% of the UM graduating class. My impression is that just about all of our JDs took a bar exam somewhere, and that the numbers reflect a reality that we run a school with both national and Florida ambitions, but I could be wrong about that. Indeed, if you'd asked me, I'd have guessed that the Florida-national ratio was more like 2:1 than 1:1, which suggests either that anecdotal evidence is not worth much, or that the school is becoming more national.

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34 Responses to University of Miami Law Tops Florida Bar Pass

1. marc says:

Too bad there’s no jobs for them. OCI has like 20 firms and the Career Services is a joke. Remember when Dean V said he’d lower the # of admitted students so that US News Rankings would rise, well instead, class size has only risen. Professor quality is decent, but good luck getting the classes you want.

As a senior editor of one of UM’s law reviews and working throughout my time as a student, I can confirm the above .

2. michael says:

I don’t know what Dean V said, but I can tell you that it’s never been up to him, and the people it is up to have thought very carefully about the class size issue.

We’ve studied the idea of shrinking the school intensively, since in theory it has all sorts of virtues. But in fact, once you run the numbers, shrinking the school beyond its current targeted size (modulo strange increases in yield as sometimes happens for no reason we can figure out) turns out to have very much less payoff than we expected in any of the metrics that we can model.

What seems to have a much bigger bang for the buck is trying to spend a bit more (and a bit different) to both incrementally and in some cases radically change the nature and quality of the education — and that’s the direction our strategic plan takes us. One soon-to-be-visible aspect of this is our plan to very greatly increase the size of the faculty, thus both decreasing the size of some classes and increasing the breadth and depth of the curriculum. Your observation that students sometimes have trouble getting the classes they want has some real merit — and we are seized of the problem and intend to materially improve it.

OCI, on the other hand, has never been a way to get a job for most students here, nor in most schools outside the top 20 or 30. You have to go to them — they just don’t come to you. There isn’t, so far as I can tell, a whole lot we can do about that except in the long term by doing some things that brand our students as special. And I, for one, would like to try to do that. The downside, however, is that any serious plan to achieve that for real (as opposed to marketing fakery) will require not just extra work from the faculty but also extra work from students, and that is not going to be popular in all quarters.

3. marc says:

The school already plays the game, not unlike like Penn and their 100% job at graduation rate a few years ago. The difference is that most Penn students get jobs from their school’s prestige. Many of my classmates got jobs at decent firms like Weil, Greenberg, Holland, etc. because of family at the firm or their family firm clients.

Let’s face it: Miami’s yield is high because many of the tri-state area kids have their parents pay for law school here after Emory, Washington, Tulane, or GW reject them. It’s not like UM wins the cross-admit battle with any of those schools. In fact, it’s a tough argument to chose Miami over FIU at full tuition. And that should be an absurdity considering they have no law school alumni rep or base.

I’m glad lots of students passed the bar. Put that’s a tribute to their innate intelligence and barbri; it says nothing of the quality of UM.

OCI is for the top 15% they say. However, I knew people, with good personalities, who got no jobs and maybe only two interviews. During my callback with a prestigious S. Fla. firm I was specifically told that while my numbers were good, they prefer UF grads over UM grads with virtually equal quantitative factors.

The problem is that Career Services and the Dean cater to smaller firms (look at who sponsers the Lit Skill prizes). Speaking of which, my lit skills teacher for Trial Skills offered me (unsolicited) an interview at a firm on Brickell. I was literally ignored during my interview which consisted of 2 partners talking to one another about football and Millberg Weiss flopping.

I think UM needs to go after the bigger Miami firms. Greenberg traurig has a cocktail party for like the top 20% of UM and only hires 2 grads a year on average. That’s absurd.

4. michael says:

I’m not sure what you mean by “the school already plays the game” but if you mean massaging numbers for US News, I’m all too sure that we don’t do it nearly enough or even at all. Dean Dennis Lynch just wasn’t going to play that game as a matter of principle, and he didn’t. That may have hurt our rankings — I am fairly sure it did — but there it is.

5. Danny says:

As a graduate of the class of 2007 I can say that getting a job after UM was extremely difficult. I would go as far as to say that I got a job in spite of the CPC or CDC or whatever the heck they are calling that tremendous waste of space on the first floor these days.

My experience at UM was fair, and I encountered a fair amount of anti-Semitism on the part of professors and faculty as well as being bludgeoned by left wing almost fascist ideology at an alarming pace. However, I understand that its not uncommon for lawschool these days to have that characteristic.

Nonetheless, its the best law school in south florida and comparisons to FIU are just stupid since FIU grads dont get jobs and can’t write. They are trained to pass the bar only. My friends who turned down UM to go to FIU and graduated from there still dont have jobs, 1+ years later, and I’ve already lateraled to a second/better paying job.

I’m disappointed that UM does nothing for Alumni other than offer then license plates and football tickets. Its sad and pathetic. Maybe something a bit more thought provoking. Maybe some better networking opportunities, anything that makes UM stand out. I would love to brand the students, but that branding can start with hard working alums firsts, (and not just children of wealthy donors)

6. marc says:

Yeah, the anti-semitism was thick. You have to deal with that unfortunately in South Florida. It’s a very rural and fiercely provincial Scandanavian enclave, but it’s not like you didn’t know that when applying to a school with such a lack of Jewish professors and students.

Obviously, you’ve never been to UM or south of Martin County.

7. kc says:

Marc- I graduated two years ago, so I think I can weigh in . The V-100’s aren’t on offer like low-hanging fruit. What did you expect? It’s a bad economy and a crapshoot if you get an interview–when you do, you’d better make the most of it. It’s Miami, not Yale. I wasn’t on moot court, any law review, not even in the top 20% ; all I did was run an organization, get heavily involved with a Clinic, go out of my way to show employers that I was interested in making myself and not following the obvious path. Now I work for a federal agency that had 700 applications and 7 hires, make good money, and keep good hours (every other Friday off). Maybe you should expand your parameters of what constitutes success–maybe you must. Consider that the CPC is a resource for students and not a distributor or entitlements. Fact is, some employers will prefer Florida graduates and some will prefer Miami graduates. Your anecdote is not an indictment of UM, it’s a reflection of the reality that interviewers and employers are individuals–products of their own education and experience. If you’re going to criticize, make it constructive. My smart friends are really cool and didn’t get jobs? The school makes friends with the wrong firms? These are silly complaints. Do schools of similar stature really do that better in getting their students hired? Should UM spurn its prominent alumni who seek to remain involved but work for smaller firms or the government (although, I had two adjunct professors who worked at big firms)? Sorry, spade’s a spade.

Danny- Whoa with the wild accusations. I never witnessed any antisemitism at UM. And give me an example of the facist ideas that were foisted on your innocent mind–I’m even more interested in this left-wing facism that you speak of. And saying something bad about the Bush administration or discussing the unconstitutionality of Gitmo doesn’t count.

8. Sam says:

The UM Law Administration is a joke. They go on and on about social justice BS, advertise \$100K starting salaries in their recruiting material, watch as people respond to this and go \$150K in debt, and then watch graduates in the top 10% go to work for \$50K/year. I would ask Prof. Froomkin to please question the CPC as to how that stat gets into the recruiting literature.

9. danny says:

Wild accusations? I had a certain prof. (an adjunct) who told me and the only other observant jew in his class that since we would be missing his final 3 classes due to passover, we would get C’s the loweest grades in the class. when I explained that it wasnt that we didnt care about his class and we had no choice, he said, and i quote, “you have a choice, you are choosing to be religious, and you will live with those consequences.” this prof went on the be a judge for the negotiation comp. and made sure to judge the rounds for both my group and the other orthodox jewish students group and made sure to berate and interupt both myself and him during the competition. It was so bad, that the eventual winners of the competition who witnessed it asked what was going on since the prof comments were mean and hateful, and laced with expletives.

a different prof. who is no longer with the school dropped me from the class roster 2 weeks before the end o fthe semester claiming that I had already missed to many days of his class since i had to take off time for jewish holidays. and that they were, in his mind, unexcused. only after repeatred appeals to dean V was i permited to take the final and not have to repeat the course. (it was an 8AM 4 day a week course).

leftist fascist ideology was rampant in 2004 after the election when Bush won re-election and professors saying they “couldnt teach today since it was just too painful”. or duing the “strike” when profs didnt want to cross picket lines and wanted to teach in the church accross the street or cancel classes altogether. Of course they offered to make them up on saturdays. So as a jew i have to choose between saturday class and teh sabbath, or church. what a comfortable situation to put a paying student in so you can advance your leftists labor political agenda.

Marc – dont be so sarcastic. I am born and raised in south florida. my family has been here for more that 70 years. dont cheapen my experiences and dismiss them with a waive of the hand just b/c you dont agree. yes there are plenty of jewish student at UM, in fact more that 40% of the students identified as jewish (i know this as an executive member of a jewish student org.) but that doesnt mean that there wasnt any bad blood or mistreatment based on religious observance.

kc- read about how fascism started. look at what it needs to survive and you will see that it really is a creation of the left, not the right.

10. michael says:

Speaking as one of the Jewish faculty members, I can say that not only have I never witnessed any anti-semitism here, but no student has ever come to me with a complaint. If they had, I would have taken it most seriously indeed. I’m certain the Deans would do the same.

This is not a community that is going to tolerate any discriminatory acts by its faculty.

(But it does tolerate political speech by faculty…)

The idea that fascism is left-wing has only a tiny grain of historic truth to it, and next to none in the German, British, or US contexts. (Italy was indeed more complex once, although modern Italian fascism is right-wing indeed.) That history has little relevance to current events, where fascism is almost always a right-wing phenomenon. (I suppose we could quibble about one or two South American countries if we had to.)

11. Hayden O'Byrne says:

The Miami economy is made up of tens of thousands of small businesses; it is not like New York where Fortune 500 Companies dominate, or DC where the Federal Government looms over everything. Accordingly, the Miami legal market is much more decentralized and a greater number of smaller law firms cater to these clients. If you think about the most famous/ prestigious attorneys in town most of them are at smaller firms- Roy Black, Kendal Coffey, Guy Lewis, Bruce Stone, Rohan Kelley, Jose Astigarraga, Dean Colson, Steve Marks etc. These smaller firms cannot really utilize OCI since they cannot commit to hiring a couple of new graduates every year. The big Miami firms do use OCI but their hiring needs are only about 20 students a year. Unfortunately, not many people (students, administration, faculty included) at the University of Miami recognize this.

What Miami really needs to do to improve its job placement is increase the ties between students and the Miami legal community so that students can meet lawyers at the smaller firms that will eventually be hiring them. Lit Skills and adjuncts like Professors Redmond and Siegfried are a great start but it has to go further. There have to be local voices in the faculty committees and at the faculty water-coolers to really improve the hiring situation and make it a priority. (Is employment even mentioned in the Strategic Plan?)

Hiring Miami Law graduates to tenured or tenure track faculty positions would be a start. Since Massey retired, I believe that there are none. More transparency in LRW hiring would be nice too. Even interviewing attorneys for these positions would build connections and have a positive impact on law student hiring.

12. Janet Stearns says:

Dear Danny,

I am really sorry to hear about these encounters with some of your professors. I am not really sure if this constitutes anti-semitism or just a significant lack of consideration for your religious beliefs.

I do wish that you had come forward at the time to the Dean of Students office. We are here to help run interference for students when situations like these come up with professors. If you are still interested in coming forward and letting me know more about the professors involved, I would be happy to hear from you. Maybe we can prevent this issue from affecting others, particularly with the upcoming Jewish holidays.

Let me also state that the University has a policy, followed by the law school, that respects the rights of students to observe a variety of religious holidays. These are posted on the UM web page at:
https://www6.miami.edu/registrar/calendars/ReligiousHolidaysFall2008.pdf

We are not supposed to test on these days, nor to interfere with a student’s ability to observe these recognized holidays. This policy is repeated each year to our regular and adjunct faculty, and they should be on notice. However, your posting reminds us that we can do more.

I will believe that UM Law School is a diverse community, and that by and large we strive to respect the differences of all who make up that community. Thank you for speaking up on this important issue.

13. danny says:

It is not my intention to air out all this dirty laundry or to publicly denigrate UM. I am happy I went there. I was happy to return to South FL after years in the north east.

My UM degree has helped me get good jobs making OK money so i could support my family.

Are there problems at UM that negatively affect the students? of course, but those issues arent exclusive to UM.

Ms. Stearns – I would love to speak with you further on this topic privately. It would be a pleasure to ensure that this does not happen in the future. (although 1 prof isnt at the school anymore, and the other “teaches” 1 or 2 classes at the most) I will first talk it over with the other student to see if he wants to be involved, as this is a delicate issue and going public without the veil of anonymity can be somewhat disconcerting.

14. The numbers says:

To be fair, I think that Miami either does massage or knowingly submits numbers it knows are misleading. I haven’t seen the latest rankings, but when I was choosing law schools Miami was reporting that it’s grads in the private sector averaged about 84k / year as new hires. (I don’t know the exact number but it was in the low 80s, maybe someone can correct me).

That’s either a flat out lie, or it only reflects a very select number of the top students.

15. Michael says:

Hmm. All I know is that the number for all graduates, in all types of employment, for the class of 2006 was an average of \$69,000 for a starting salary. (I’m sure there is more recent data but I don’t have it to hand.) That includes those working for the public interest, where the average starting salary was approximately \$37,000, and local/state/federal government, where the average starting salary was \$43,000.

The number you are quoting sounds like it might indeed be the average for people working in firms — which is higher than the average for the class as a whole (but not unrepresentative, as a majority of the class does go work for firms). Indeed, circa 84K for last year (2007) seems plausible for an average to me – it needs to be well above 2006’s 69K (plus inflation) to make up for the lower numbers earned by those not working for firms.

Two other things. First, the average — the number you quoted — isn’t nearly as interesting as the median, as the average gets distorted by outliers. You can drown in a river an average of six inches deep. For all I know, the median student working in a firm earned a somewhat less than circa \$84K/year, but the average got dragged up by a sizable minority earning much more. That would in any case be consistent with your anecdotal observation.

Second, note also that Florida has no state income tax, so law firms tend to pay a little less here than they do in some other markets, including firms with Florida branches.

Two quick points.

The first is about OCI. The truth is that Miami can do little about that. Even the biggest firms down here hire only nine or ten students for their summer classes. Of those, maybe half come from Florida schools. That leaves one or two spots for UF, one or two for Miami, and maybe one for a student from a local South Florida school.

I was fortunate to land a summer-associate position (not from family, but from hard work and grades). I think that I’d have been happy at a smaller firm as well. But I’d like to point out and encourage students also to apply to large firms in larger cities, such as New York and Washington. When a firm takes on approximately one hundred summer associates, it’s easier to hire one or two students from Miami. Easier, perhaps, than it is for some of the large, South Florida firms.

The second point concerns the CPC (or CDO). There are a few things that can get better there. For example, the judicial-clerkship director usually takes a three-week vacation in August, the month that’s perhaps most crucial for students to attain last-minute advice, tips, etc. The cold truth is that a judicial-clerkship director’s presence during that month would make little difference in attaining clerkships–they are very competitive, even for the top students at top schools. But it makes students feel indignation specifically toward the CDO, and generally toward the law school.

17. Sam says:

Check out the viewbook on the prospective student page. This is what they send to potential students. It lists average salary as \$104,500. It does break things down by firm size, but it states that 94% of students average at least \$63,500/year. I know the CPC and administration will claim this is not a lie, but that is because they are simply not honest people.

This is a flat out lie and I ask the corrupt UM administration to finally do everybody a favor and not lie to prospectives. I know that I have corrected this misinformation with at least one admitted student and that student then decided not to come here.

UM is very expensive and this has to stop. For about half the class mommy and daddy are not paying the way and graduating with a ton of debt is crushing for them. Truth be told, I did find a job, although it pays closer to the \$63K than over \$100K, and I am among the lucky. A lot of kids have no job and can’t find one despite passing the bar and graduating high in their class.

All UM alumni should join together and encourage Shalala to clean house. The administration just doesn’t care and the faculty seems to care even less, with the exception of Professor Hill.

I do applaud Froomkin’s willingness to keep an open forum here and at least listen, but things have to change at UM Law or it will continue to lose respect in the South Florida market (which for all intents and purposes is it for our grads).

Thanks Sam

I was wondering what the viewbook said. \$104,500 is absolutely ridiculous. There are Multi-lingual 2008 Magna-Cum Laude law review members without jobs.

If anyone on this thread has access to the career center job postings I’d like to know if there are ANY jobs with a \$104,500 starting salary for Non-tax LLM’s. I’ll bet almost everything on there (even for 07 06 grads) is \$60-80 at most and probably more like \$40-50 when the checks are actually delivered.

Too bad we cannot sue the University of Miami on an investment contract theory for issuing a false prospectus. I’ve got a lot of debt I’d like to have refunded.

19. Michael says:

The headline numbers on p. 23 of the online viewbook do look odd.

Based on the data presented later on that same page in the viewbook and some back of the envelope arithmetic, it seems as if the average starting salary for graduates in firms of two or more should be something in the \$84-85K range (which would be consistent with what I know about the 2007 data), not over \$100K. In other words, the breakout tables and pie charts look right, and produce an average number above \$84K, but the support for the headline appearing above them with a six-digit number is not at all obvious to me. I’ve written to administrators to ask if I’m missing something here and will report back if I learn anything useful.

And, again based on the numbers later on the page with the puzzling headline, it does appear that a respectable minority of graduates are pulling down the six-figure bucks — but not the median graduate, nor even the median graduate working for a firm. So the suggestion that these jobs are mythical seems unfounded — although they are clearly far from assured. (I wonder if the people who get those jobs are the quiet types who work hard and don’t brag?)

And finally, to echo what some said above, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the large majority of the highest paying jobs were not posted in the careers center. If they’re paying top dollar they can have you go to them, especially if the jobs are out of town, which I suspect is the case for many of them.

20. DontGoToUM says:

One FACT that many of you don’t realize and most schools don’t list is the fact that they don’t tell you that the reporting percentage is say 50% and not 100%. In other words, virtually all the ones who report their salary stats are the ones who are employed.

Even if a school that has 50% of its graduates unemployed, it can still have \$100K starting salary if only 20% of its graduate report their stats. Keep in mind, no graduate is obligated to respond to these surveys. If someone is unemployed or making \$30K, they would not be in the mood to spend time filling out how they are not doing well after graduation.

When I was at Miami I heard that the employment stat in U.S. news was based on a self-reported sample size of 11. Academics ignore reality all the time, it’s why they are academics.

It’s ok though, pretty soon the syndicated student loan bubble will burst, it will be impossible for students to get loans, the Miami Law budget will shrink dramatically and the professors will be out trying to get jobs with the students.

When I was at Miami I heard that the employment stat in U.S. news was based on a self-reported sample size of 11. Academics ignore reality all the time, it’s why they are academics.

It’s ok though, pretty soon the syndicated student loan bubble will burst, it will be impossible for students to get loans, the Miami Law budget will shrink dramatically and the professors will be out trying to get jobs with the students.

23. michael says:

I’m told that response rate at the time the viewbook was published was 46% for salary data of those working in firms, and much higher for some other numbers.

Funny how strange rumors get around.

24. Sam says:

So…the data is still incredibly incomplete and misleading. See, when Wall Street lies about the value of their products we call it a crisis and try to do something different. I don’t see why the UM Law Administration is allowed to get away with lying about the value of a UM law degree.

How about the US attorney bring them up on interstate fraud charges, seeing as how they lure unsuspecting kids from around the nation to come here based on fraudulent stats?

Just a thought. Thanks for looking into it Professor.

25. michael says:

For those who care, I’ve posted an extended discussion of UM’s salary/employment data at More About Starting Salaries. Claims of “fraud” are completely out of place. Collusion, on the other hand….

26. Sam says:

How are claims of fraud completely out of place It isn’t fraud because somebody with a Harvard degree and a law school dean job does it? I think not. A spade is a spade, and the UM Law administration are definitely spades…

as a sidenote i went to law school both in germany and at UM JD and LLM.it never occured to me that i had the right to take a day off for a muslim holiday.if you complain about UM,you understand why i left germany.i never even dared to ASK.NOBODY W HAVE GIVEN A DAMN!

28. michael says:

I hope the comment about Islamic holidays is about Germany, not here. The law school asks professors to recognize the holidays listed in the University of Miami list of religious holidays and I do not know of a professor who fails to do by at least treating an absence as excused. (Note that the list has Christian, Jewish and Muslim holidays on it.)

I am quite tough about attendance, and I always give people a pass for a religious holiday — although not always for the travel to be home for it (students can use some of their ‘no questions asked’ free passes for that, I figure).

29. Randon says:

“This is not a community that is going to tolerate any discriminatory acts by its faculty.”

michael it is no longer necessary to carry on this charade now that the Mighty O is on the Brink. Students with conservative viewpoints are not welcome in the UM law classroom, unless they are willing to submit themselves to mockery, berating and grading discrimination.* As it should be under the Party, UM law is a fine model for the Nation of O.

*Especially from professors who despite acts of hypocritical moral turpitude (which are tolerated) remain on the faculty.

All Hail the Mighty O!

30. danny says:

Randon: I completely agree.

Michael: If only all profs. at UM were as understanding…

(but not to worry, one who was especially unforgiving is no longer with UM Law, and the other is just an adjunct prof who teaches 1 course maybe 2.)

31. I am seeking to partner with a recent grad who is admitted to the Florida Bar. Primarily I am looking to open a Bankruptcy Practice in Florida. No experience necessary. I am not interested in your class placement, your GPA nor your writing sample. What I am interested in is your interest in consumer law and your desire to learn this area of law. Please write me at: webberlawfirm@gmail.com if interested.

32. Feb 2009 bar results for famu-col was the LOWEST in the state and a ” personal worst” of 52.3%The rattler nation talks about DIVERSITY, look at this TSU-col was 40% for the feb BAR

33. michael says:

February results typically mean even less than summer due to the small numbers taking the exam. But don’t forget, Bar Pass Rates are Over-Rated As A Measure of Law School Quality.

34. club penguin says:

The breakout tables and pie charts look right, and produce an average number above \$84K, but the support for the headline appearing above them with a six-digit number is not at all obvious to me. I’ve written to administrators to ask if I’m missing something here and will report back if I learn anything useful.