For any licensed attorneys out there – or hopeful law students – who want to practice in the state of Mississippi, you should know that if you fail the state bar exam three times, you are required to go back to law school if want to take a fourth crack at it.

Board of Bar Examiners’ Petition

The Mississippi state supreme court granted the Mississippi Board of Bar Examiners’ petition requiring 12 (yes, 12) additional semester hours of law school for those applicants who want to make a fourth attempt at passing the state bar examination. Two justices filed objections to granting the petition.

About 23 jurisdictions in the nation place a limit on the number of times an applicant can sit for its state bar exam. Some jurisdictions place certain conditions on applicants who are retaking the examination, such as waiting a year before reattempting or getting permission before taking it again.

Mississippi Bar Examination Statistics

269 applicants sat for the Mississippi state bar examination in 2018. The passing rate was under 50%. According to the petition submitted to the Mississippi supreme court, about 40% of applicants sitting for the Mississippi bar are repeat test takers, which significantly negatively affects bar passing rates.

Some note that there is no data supporting or denying the idea that additional legal education would help a return bar taker pass after three attempts. Many in the legal field advocate that there should be an absolute limit on the number of failures. No other state except for Mississippi has imposed a rule requiring additional legal education in order to retake the bar examination. Others feel a rule should have been imposed precluding an applicant from having any more chances to pass the bar after five failures.

According to data from the American Bar Association Journal, 47 of the University of Mississippi’s law school graduates sat for the bar in 2018 and had a 72.34% passing rate. As for Mississippi College, the state’s other law school, 74 law school graduates sat for the bar exam in 2018 and had a 48.65% passing rate.

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