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Alumni and Friends Making an Impact

University of Dayton School of Law students studying

Paving a Road to Success

“Law school is stressful because you’re trying to keep up the fast pace of learning,” said Ricky Murray ’22. “Donors allow students to focus on their studies instead of the financial burden. That’s a big part of what helps University of Dayton School of Law students produce high bar passage and graduation rates.”

For law students like Murray, graduating from law school is the culmination of a dream. But it doesn’t mean it is time to celebrate. Many don’t realize that students still have one big hurdle to overcome before they can be attorneys — passing the bar exam.

The bar exam is important for anyone who wants to practice law and it’s only offered twice a year.

“For students, it’s the ultimate goal,” said Micheline Kidwell, the director of bar preparation and associate professor of academic success at the University of Dayton School of Law. “If they go through law school but are unsuccessful with the bar exam that could mean that job offer may or may not be there, and that can derail the trajectory of their career.”

That means when selecting a law school, most prospective students are looking at the support law schools offer and the bar passage rates of its students when deciding where to go. The University of Dayton Law School’s rich curriculum and a wide array of co-curricular activities prepare students to thrive in diverse areas of legal practice, but none of that training matters if students can’t pass the bar exam.

“So many of our students go on to do amazing work, and we want to support them and their ability to do that,” said Kidwell.

“So many of our students go on to do amazing work, and we want to support them and their ability to do that,” said Kidwell.

The University of Dayton School of Law has adapted to stay ahead of trends that provide students with bar passage support. Changes include more courses during their third and final year of law school geared toward helping them pass the bar exam. UDSL graduates also have access to postgraduate programming that includes more than just quiet places to study and access to their professors. UD’s Road to Bar Passage program provides benefits such as housing stipends, free healthy breakfasts and lunches on weekdays, and interactive study sessions — mostly covered by the Dean’s Fund for Excellence through One Day, One Dayton donations — to address the basic needs these students might have so they can focus on becoming the best lawyers they can be.

“People think you need to be top of the class or cutthroat in law school, but you can’t be an island when you eventually work at a firm or for a prosecutor’s office,” said Murray. “The University of Dayton School of Law was cooperative, and that made it easy to come in and find your people.”

And focusing on the students’ needs is making a difference. Eighty percent of UDSL students who took the Ohio bar exam in July 2022 passed, the fourth highest passage rate among the 10 law schools in Ohio.

“Once they graduate they’re technically no longer our students, and we can say we’re done and good luck. But instead, we continue to take care of them,” said Kidwell. “They’re forever part of the UD community, and UD takes care of people.”

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