ASU Law leads in bar-exam passage, average score for 5th straight year

November 29, 2018

For the fifth consecutive year, graduates of the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University have posted the best marks on the summer Arizona Bar Exam.

ASU Law led the state with an overall passage rate of 74.1 percent, far exceeding the overall state figures of 59.2 percent. 2018 JD Convocation 2018 JD graduates at the Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law convocation. Download Full Image

“There are few things more critical for a law school graduate than the ability to pass the bar exam,” said ASU Law Dean Douglas Sylvester. “To lead the state five years in a row is obviously a testament to the hard work of our students and dedication of our faculty. While ensuring students receive a personalized and top-notch education is important, we also believe in investing in their success.”

ASU Law offers graduates free career guidance and support from their Office of Career and Employment Services as well as free or low-cost preferred tuition rates on continued education. The college is ranked No. 19 in the nation for employment at 88.9 percent (American Bar Association). ASU Law also has been ranked in the top 20 for five consecutive years.

The consistently high bar-passage rates helped ASU Law receive a top rating on The National Jurist magazine’s ranking of best-value law schools. ASU Law — ranked No. 22 overall — was one of just 25 schools to receive an “A” rating, based on ultimate bar-passage rate and other key measures, such as employment rate, tuition, cost of living and average debt upon graduation.

National Jurist says of its best-value rating system, “It’s a no-nonsense evaluation of the nation’s law schools and their ability to deliver a solid education and job-readiness without costing a fortune.”

This marked the second year in a row that ASU Law improved or maintained its overall passage rate and its average score on the July bar exam. In addition to the overall success, ASU Law also posted the top individual scores, with Tyler Carlton (highest score) and Bethany Anne Polk (tied for the second-highest score) leading the way.

ASU Law has led the state in bar-passage percentage and average score on the summer exam every year since 2014 while posting one of the nation’s highest bar-exam differentials, which compares a school’s bar-passage rate to the overall rate in its state.

The passage percentages are broken down by first-time test-takers and repeat test-takers, and ASU Law topped all other Arizona law schools — as well as test-takers from all other out-of-state schools accredited by the American Bar Association — in both categories.

The state bar exam is administered biannually, every February and July, although a majority of students take the summer test.

Lauren Dickerson

Marketing and communications coordinator, Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law


Family diagnoses inspire Seoul student to become a physician

November 29, 2018

Editor’s note: This is part of a series of profiles for fall 2018 commencement. Read about more graduates.

International student Jin Wook Chung first studied in his home country of South Korea at Kangwon National University before making the decision to come to the United States to pursue his educational goals. Jin Wook Chung Jin Wook Chung. Download Full Image

After studying for two years at East Tennessee State, Chung decided he wanted to attend a larger school and transferred to ASU’s School of Molecular Sciences to major in chemistry.

Chung's interest in science has a personal motivation: his mother and grandmother. When he was a young child, Chung’s mother was diagnosed with breast cancer and his grandmother developed Alzheimer’s, two major influences in his desire to become a physician someday.

Bruce Marsh, professor of practice in the School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment taught Chung in his Earth Systems and Sustainable Engineering class in the spring of 2017. The class is primarily for seniors, and yet as a junior Chung was in the top 2 percent of the class. Marsh describes Chung as a very special student at ASU and said he was very fortunate to have had him in his class.

“Jin Wook is a very bright scholar with a delightful personality. He works very hard and put himself all out to be successful in my class," said Marsh. "I came to know him as he was always asking insightful questions and coming back to me with progress at every turn on the good work that he was doing. I believe he is the kind of person who would excel at whatever he decides to work on.  He is the kind of person who will help to look at the challenges we face from different perspectives and would be driven to help you and your team find alternatives and solutions that could benefit many other people.”

Question: What was your “aha” moment, when you realized you wanted to study the field you majored in? 

Answer: When I decided to transfer to ASU for more opportunities to gain experience in the medical field. The Phoenix area has so many large hospitals and I was able to get a job in the pathology lab at Banner Health in Mesa. Over last summer I began to do an internship at Seoul National University Cancer Research Institute, utilizing the basic lab skills such as cell culture, immunohistochemistry and fluorescent microscopy that I learned studying in the Keck Bioimaging lab here at ASU.

Q: What’s something you learned while at ASU — in the classroom or otherwise — that surprised you or changed your perspective?

A: I took a civil engineering class to broaden my perspective with Professor Bruce Marsh. Part of the class held debates in class and helped me gain more insight to become a better problem solver and look at issues from a multidimensional aspect. 

Q: Why did you choose ASU?

A: ASU is a large university with many opportunities for students. 

Q: Which professor taught you the most important lesson while at ASU?

A: Professor Marsh in many ways was a mentor to me, very supportive in a way that is different from my professors in South Korea. In Korea, the professors keep everything about academics and here at ASU, Professor Marsh really helped me as a friend, father-figure and as a professor.

Q: What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to those still in school?

A: For international students — don’t be shy! Ask a question from your advisors and instructors. Make American friends because they can help you with advice and information. My friends helped me in finding jobs and helped with my schoolwork.

Q: What was your favorite spot on campus, whether for studying, meeting friends or just thinking about life?

A: Danforth Chapel to pray and the Noble Science Library to meet friends.

Q: What are your plans after graduation?

A: I am applying to medical school in South Korea and have an interest in studying neuroscience or gastric science.

Q: If someone gave you $40 million to solve one problem on our planet, what would you tackle?

A: Diabetes and obesity. I would build and fund free fitness centers to promote healthy living, exercise and being active. The fitness centers would also have trainers and staff available to help people with diet and exercise.

Alumni and Special Events Coordinator, School of Earth & Space Exploration