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Passing the bar and savoring success

USC law grads prepare to move from classroom to counsel — doing so at a higher rate than last year

Graduates were sworn in to the state and federal bars.
Graduates are sworn into the state and federal bars. (Photo/Mikel Healey)

USC Gould School of Law’s class of 2014 graduates returned to campus to mark the capstone in their legal journey — passing the bar.

The grads posted a bar passage rate of 87 percent — an increase over the previous year and unofficially one of the highest passage rates in California. The increase comes despite a significant average decrease in passage among California exam-takers this year.

You have much to be proud of.

Robert K. Rasmussen

“The unofficial results are in, and your class is among the best, in the top three,” Dean Robert K. Rasmussen told graduates, friends and family gathered in Town & Gown on Dec. 5. “You have much to be proud of.”

A test of smarts and stamina

The California bar exam is a three-day test that examines analytical rigor, creativity and in many cases, sheer stamina. For more than a decade, USC Gould has been one of the top performers among California law schools. This year, the school enjoyed its biggest gain when compared to the California average, which was 69 percent.

Mara Baker ’14, who is working in corporate counsel at Patch of Land, a real estate crowdfunding company, said USC Gould fosters a strong and supportive community, which made studying for the bar “highly manageable.”

“Everyone got together during the summer and we made lists, shared our outlines and we had amazing study sessions,” Baker said. “It would have been a completely different experience had I done this on my own. USC is an extremely collegial environment that you see as a student as well as a graduate.”

Changing one’s thinking

Leslie Wolf ’14, who starts at O’Melveny & Myers in San Francisco in January, said the school’s outstanding faculty and classes prepared her for this day.

“I had Professor [Scott] Bice for torts and I feel like he did a great job not just teaching us substantive law but also thinking like a lawyer and arguing both sides of an issue. I think that was a very important start in changing the way you think.”

‘Lead a balanced life’

Juan Carlos Olivares ’14, who is working at Latham & Watkins in Los Angeles, agreed, adding: “I had Professor [Edward] Kleinbard for corporate tax. He spent 30 years working in private practice, which is what I’m doing now, so he helped me understand what the client service profession is all about.”

Have moral readiness and respect for the law.

Dorothy Nelson

The graduates were congratulated by family, friends and USC Gould professors and deans at the event that also included a formal swearing in to the state and federal bars by the Hon. Bobbi Tillman ’77 and the Hon. Dorothy Nelson ’56.

Nelson, who was dean of USC Gould from 1967 to 1980, told the newly sworn in attorneys to “be true to yourself and lead a balanced life. Have moral readiness and respect for the law.”

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Passing the bar and savoring success

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