Bar exam results are finally starting to roll in for all the recent law school graduates who sat for the bar exam this July. The news is either a relieving signal to proceed as planned, or a call to reevaluate one’s life direction, which might mean taking the bar exam again. Which will it be for the no-longer law students in your life?

Do Most Students Appreciate the Risk?

Many law students take a significant risk when they take the bar exam. The most recent bar exam results released in Louisiana (February 2011) show that only 54% of the nearly 400 test takers passed. Three years of law school. Three figures of thousands in debt. Three days of essay exams. Only to learn, based on the humorous name the bar examiners have assigned, that you’ve failed. (How could Obi Wan fail?!) In California, where unaccredited law schools abound, only 42% of the first-time bar exam takers passed last February. Repeat takers fared worse: nearly two thirds failed, after waiting three months for the news. That’s an incredible risk after incredible investment of time and, likely, money.

Some States Do Better Than Others

The odds are pretty good for me. My law school is in a state where about 95% of the folks from that school pass the bar exam in that state every year. (Iowa and Iowa, if you’re not paying attention. And if you’re considering a legal career in my flyover state, note that, according to one only-slightly-sketchy bar passage rate website, Iowa had the best passage rate overall in 2009 of all the states, although it was beat out by the North Mariana Islands. And we only have to wait seven weeks for the results.) I did well in school and studied hard in my bar review course. If I haven’t passed, I’ll have to answer to my employer, my family, and myself. Despite the statistics in my favor and the fact that my whole law school experience was much lower risk than many, I’m scared enough that I’ll refrain from gloating until I’ve got my bar exam results in hand.

Good Luck!

People have been writing a lot the past few years that there are too many lawyers, and too many law students. But if you’re in my boat – and holding your breath for bar exam results – the dropping-out-of-law-school-for-your-MBA ship has sailed. Here’s to the best possible results for you and your classmates!