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Jax Daily Record Monday, Jan. 15, 201806:50 AM EST

Florida Coastal students excel on professionalism exam

97 percent pass rate on the November MPRE required by The Florida Bar is No. 1 in the state.
by: Max Marbut Associate Editor

Students of Florida Coastal School of Law turned in a nearly perfect performance when 97 percent of them passed the November Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination, one of the requirements for admission to The Florida Bar.

The pass percentage was the highest among the 11 law schools in the state, as well as graduates of law schools outside Florida and attorneys who previously were admitted to the practice of law in other states, according to the Florida Board of Bar Examiners.

Florida Coastal Dean Scott DeVito attributes the level of success on the most recent exam to a combination of raising the minimum Law School Admission Test score required to enroll at the school and improving the ethics and professionalism curriculum.

DeVito said when he was appointed dean of the school in June 2015, the faculty and administration were “concerned about the MPRE.”

Florida Coastal graduates were at the time consistently grading out on the test in the bottom two or three among the state’s 11 law schools.

After the curriculum change, “that got us into the middle of the state,” DeVito said.

Florida Coastal’s MPRE pass percentage has been fifth out of 11 schools or better in the seven tests administered beginning with the August 2015 exam.

Its students also had the highest pass percentage on the August 2016 exam and ranked No. 2 among Florida law schools in November 2016.

The professional responsibility examination is administered by the National Conference of Bar Examiners. Passing the exam is required for admission to the Bar in all 50 states.

The test is based on regulations governing conduct and discipline of attorneys and judges accepted as standards by the American Bar Association in its Model Rules of Professional Conduct and Model Code of Judicial Conduct.

The 60-question exam is administered in March, August and November.

It covers topics such as the client-lawyer relationship, client confidentiality, legal malpractice and civil liability, safekeeping funds and other property and lawyers’ duties to the public and to the profession, and others.

“It’s based on the national rules and what it means to be an ethical lawyer,” DeVito said.

Florida Coastal students are encouraged to wait until at least their fourth semester to take the class that prepares them for the MBRE, said Florida Coastal Associate Dean of Academic Programs Jennifer Reiber.

The class is designed to prepare the students for the test, which is considered the “final exam” at Florida Coastal.

“Students see hundreds of MPRE questions before they take the test,” said Reiber.

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