FSU earns top passing rate for spring Bar exam
by Joe Wilhelm Jr.
The latest class of law students received results from the February State Bar Exam and, of the 1,585 applicants, 568 were approved to practice in Florida.
The exam consists of two parts: the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination (MPRE) and the General Bar Examination, which also consists of two parts. The MPRE is designed to measure knowledge and understanding of established standards related to a lawyer’s professional conduct.
The exam was administered Feb. 23-24 in Tampa. Students can apply to take the entire exam or reapply to take a part they didn’t pass previously.
“I’ve fought in wars before, so I’ve experienced high levels of stress. This was one of the most stressful experiences of my life,” said Charlie Jimerson, founder of Jimerson Law Group, who was admitted to the Bar in April 2006. “I would only leave the house to go to the library and bar prep classes. When I passed the bar, I called my wife and she started to cry on the phone. It was great to know we had achieved that type of connection because she had altered her whole life schedule around it. It was like she was passing the bar as well.”
Applicants taking the General Bar Examination totaled 812 and 586 passed. Florida State University was represented by 33 students, and 28 passed. Nova Southeastern University sent 28 students and 23 passed. The University of Florida sent 37 and 30 passed. The University of Miami sent 43 and 31 passed. Stetson sent 74 and 50 passed.
The MPRE was taken by 902 applicants with 762 passing. UF was represented by 94 applicants with 87 passing. Stetson had 110 and 99 passing. Thirty-eight students from Nova took the exam with 34 passing. FSU students totaled 68 and 60 passed. Miami had the largest representation with 117 applicants with 102 passing.
President-Elect of the Jacksonville Bar Association’s Young Lawyers Section, Lee Wedekind, recalled his experience in passing the bar in 2003.
“I treated studying for the bar exam as a full-time job. It is a pretty good trial run for the skills needed as a young lawyer — managing stress, deadlines and time. The worst part about the exam for me was the anticipation,” said Wedekind. “Once you get over the size of the room in which the exam is administered — hundreds of desks lined up next to each other — actually taking the test isn’t too difficult. Then after the exam is over, you have to wait a few months for the results to be posted, so finding out that you passed is somewhat anti-climatic. The strongest emotion I felt when I saw my results was relief.”
The newest Florida law school on the list was Ave Maria Law School located near Naples. Florida is now home to 11 law schools.
One of the state’s newest lawyers also offered her thoughts on the exam process.
“It was horrible, but I understand that’s a fairly common response,” joked Barbara Cocciolo, a paralegal at Holland & Knight. “The closer the date came for results, the more nervous I got. When the results first came out I didn’t have Internet access at home, so I had to call my husband for him to check for me. He said I passed, but I went to my file to make sure I gave him the right number.”
Cocciolo, a Florida Coastal School of Law student, attributed her success to taking advantage of the school’s bar prep program and her coach Jordan Johnell.