Ohio Northern University Law graduates who sat for the Ohio bar exam in the summer of 2022 collectively earned one of the highest passage rates compared to those from other colleges, at 81 percent. According to Kelly Stevens, ONU bar success coordinator, this cohort placed third, just behind Case Western Reserve University and The Ohio State University.
Stevens points out that the numbers are even more impressive considering that these graduates started their studies in fall 2019, not long before the COVID-19 pandemic began.
“Just a few short months later, the entire staff and student body were forced to quickly respond to these pandemic forces, moving from traditional teaching methods (in person, limited online course instruction) to remote learning platforms (Zoom, Google Meet). Students not only had to navigate the anxieties of learning the law during an unexpected pandemic, they also had to pivot and quickly adapt to a new learning methodology,” says Stevens.
Those adaptations weren’t easy. ONU students who typically have high engagement in curricular, co-curricular, and extracurricular activities were stripped of such traditional law school experiences that also bolster student morale, intrinsic motivation, personal satisfaction and that foster the important mental health aspect that coincides with being a law student.
“When the July 2021 bar results were released, it was obvious the impact that COVID had on all students across the nation,” Stevens says. “Bar exam pass rates had dropped and there was fear of another decrease for 2022 graduates, given that most candidates had experienced the majority of their legal education during the pandemic. Compared to any other class, the students who sat for the July 2022 bar exam have undoubtedly been impacted the greatest by the pandemic. Law school is unquestionably stressful, but add a pandemic to the mix, and two years of remote learning, these students were in a bad starting position walking into their bar exam studies,” she continues.
These ONU law students, however, persevered and prevailed thanks in large part to great support received from faculty and administrative staff who helped with adaptations and provided other necessary support.
“ONU is incredibly proud of the perseverance, determination and hard work displayed by all of their students given the conditions they had to hurdle,” says Stevens.