October 21, 2008
A story in the Queens Tribune this week (Oct. 16-Oct. 22, 2008) highlights an innovative CUNY School of Law study program, the Bar Grant, to help explain dramatic improvements in the School’s Bar passage rate.
Because many of CUNY Law’s students, who make the school one of the most diverse law schools in the country and hail from more than 20 different countries, often come from financially disadvantaged backgrounds, they have had to take jobs after graduation instead of pouring all of their efforts into studying for the bar, the Queens Tribune notes.
The combination of needing to take on a job and of often having to raise families post-graduation and before the Bar made it difficult for students to pass the test because they have little time to study, Dean Michelle J. Anderson told the Tribune.
“It was an economic problem, not a problem of study smarts,” said Anderson, who became dean in 2006. “It was a question of providing time for studying. Many of our students weren’t able to get loans right after graduation and they were in the worst financial situations. That’s why we created the grant program.”
The grant program enables students to receive money they do not need to repay from the college and use that to support themselves before taking the Bar. Last year about 10 percent of the class took advantage of the grant program, which is funded by private foundations and CUNY’s chancellor.
The Tribune story also notes that other programs, such as a detailed Bar preparation study course as well as improvements in the School’s legal writing programs, have helped boost the Bar pass rate.