Legal News

China’s Bar Exam: It’s Getting Better all the Time.

international lawyers

In his post, “The Bar is Passing People By,” A Modern Lei Feng sets out the following pass rates for China’s bar exam:

2002 – 8%,
2003 – 11%
2004 – 11%
2005 – 14%
2006 – 15%
2007 – 22%

He goes on to posit that the percentages for this year’s recently completed bar exam will be even higher and wonders whether China’s rising bar pass rate will be a permanent thing. I think we will be seeing a higher pass rate in China for quite some time because, but as China becomes an increasingly more legalistic society (on the business front anyway), there will be an increasing need for lawyers in China, especially international lawyers.

What are your thoughts?

11 responses to “China’s Bar Exam: It’s Getting Better all the Time.”

  1. Those numbers are horrible, are they comparable to US, UK or Aussie bar exams?
    Also, many foreign lawyers take the PRC bar to boost their marketability, even though they can only advise, so are foreign bar candidates contributing to these numbers?
    And people think that the FE pass rate of 45% in the US is bad.

  2. DJ,
    It is administered at the state level and the pass rate can really vary. My first bar was the Illinois bar, and the word on that one was that it was super easy so that Mayor Daley’s kids could pass it on their third try. I think the rates generally range from around 45% to 75%, depending on the state. My sense, however, is that most law school graduates from decent schools do eventually pass.

  3. Greg,
    Not true. Foreigners (with the exception I think of those from Taiwan and maybe HK) cannot even sit for the China bar. I would love for co-blogger Steve Dickinson to take it as I know he would pass, but he simply cannot.
    My firm has an attorney, Nadja Vietz, who went to law school in Germany and in France, and then passed the Germany bar in German. She then moved to Spain where she passed the Spain bar, in Spanish. Washington State did not want to allow her to take the bar here, but we petitioned the Washington Supreme Court and they ruled she must be allowed to sit for the bar, which she did, and passed it, in English.
    I am always touting her as the only person in the world who has passed three bars (all on the first try no less) in three different languages. So far, nobody has proved me wrong on this. Can you?

  4. Dan
    What would you attribute these low pass rates to? Is the bar exam too difficult or are test takes poorly prepared?
    As far as I know, it is not necessary to be a law school graduate in order to take the bar here. Are large numbers of non-law graduates taking the bar exam and failing?

  5. Dan,
    Law is not my field. But I knew quite a few foreigners who were taking Chinese law classes. Their classes were separate from Chinese students solely because the instructors had to slow down for the foreigners. And the foreigners had to pass the HSK level 6 or 8 to even get admitted. No english in those classes.
    Maybe the rule has changed regarding the PRC bar. I am going off of early 2000s info.

  6. I assume you are right. I misspoke and I may be wrong about Germany as well. I should have said the only person licensed to practice law in three different countries with three different languages. I know Nadja passed the Washington State Bar Exam and I know she is licensed in Spain and in Germany, but I have no idea whether she took an exam in either Spain or Germany to get licensed in those countries.

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