UMKC Law School Provides Bar Preparation Program to All J.D. Students

Commercial program and in-person bar preparation course are now included in tuition and fees
Wanda Temm works with students, who are studying on laptops in a classroom

Beginning with December 2023 graduates, every juris doctorate student from the UMKC School of Law will receive access to Helix Bar Review, a premier online bar-prep program, as part of their tuition and fees.

The in-person bar preparation course, currently taught by Wanda Temm, a nationally recognized expert on bar passage, is now also free for these graduates.

UMKC School of Law is one of few in the country to provide both a commercial bar preparation program and a supplemental in-person course at no cost to students beyond tuition and fees.

“This is a game-changer for our students,” UMKC School of Law Dean Lou Mulligan said. “Law school is probably the most challenging intellectual exercise they’ll engage in, and the bar exam is the top of that mountain. This initiative ensures that every student has access to these important resources and the best chance to be successful.”

Reputable commercial bar preparation programs cost an average of $4,000, a high expense to ask students to pay before many of them have full-time jobs and one that cannot be paid for with a student loan. This leaves many students to make the difficult choice to take out a commercial loan to pay for a program or try to pass the bar exam without using a program to prepare.

“The reality of bar prep is that some people have to make an economic-driven decision,” said Alexis Denny, a UMKC law student graduating in December. “So they choose the cheapest or free option, don’t enroll in the in-person class and try to go it alone. With this initiative, no student has to choose between paying for bills or a bar prep program.”

Some large law firms pay for bar prep expenses, but students with ambitions in areas of law that don’t pay for bar prep, and likely don’t start at high salaries, are now able to pursue those ambitions with less concern regarding expense. UMKC School of Law prides itself on its ties and service to the Kansas City community, and this is one more way it provides value to that community, as well as its students.

“This initiative is deeply in line with our mission,” Mulligan said. “First-generation and other students with fewer economic means now have access to that resource to succeed. We’re helping to create lawyers who seek a career outside of the private sector such as in public defense, district attorney offices and public service work.”

“I think this is a really great way to help equalize the bar prep experience,” Denny said. “It’s so helpful for everyone, but especially for those who will be in the public or nonprofit sector where there is no support for bar prep costs.”

Faculty and staff at the Law School anticipate that this initiative will increase passage rates for first-time bar takers and inspire confidence from employers that UMKC graduates are prepared to begin work.

“Our students will have all of the resources they need,” Mulligan said. “We support our students from their first day at law school all the way through the bar exam. We’ve got them covered.”

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Published: Oct 18, 2023
Posted In: Administration

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