A total of 46.2 percent of the FAMU Law graduates who took the February 2017 Florida Bar Exam passed on their first try. That is the first time the FAMU first-try passage rate has been below 50 percent since its reopening.
The FAMU law school reopened in 2002 and its first class graduated in Spring 2005. That class posted a 52.9 percent first-try passage rate on the July 2005 Florida Bar Exam.
FAMU Law saw its highest first-try bar passage rate under former Dean LeRoy Pernell. FAMU graduates had an 82.6 percent first-try passage rate in February 2013.
Pernell, who started leading the law school in 2008, stepped down in July 2015 under then-President Elmira Mangum. That same month, FAMU Law graduates got a 67.9 percent first-try passage rate on the bar.
The FAMU first-try bar passage rate dropped like a rock during the rest of the Mangum presidency. The Mangum administration appointed an interim dean effective July 1, 2015 and then selected Epps for the permanent deanship with a start date of January 4, 2016. The FAMU Law first-try Florida Bar Exam passage rate was 56.5 percent in February 2016 and 52.9 percent in July 2016.
Last month, the Tallahassee Democrat reported that Epps had submitted a formal plan for reversing the decline in the first-try Florida Bar Exam passage rate.