Half of USD law school grads fail bar exam

VERMILLION, S.D. (AP) – The percentage of University of South Dakota School of Law graduates who fail to pass the state bar exam has increased from about 10 percent in 2013 to about 50 percent this year.

The trend is prompting fears that a shortage of lawyers in rural South Dakota could get worse. Most lawyers in the South Dakota hail from the university, which is the state's only law school.

The Argus Leader reports the South Dakota Board of Bar Examiners' decision to increase the minimum core needed in order to pass the bar contributed to the failure rate. South Dakota's minimum score is equal to or greater than over 30 other U.S. states.

Law school dean Thomas Geu says the university is stepping up admittance requirements, updating curriculum and hiring a director of academic support and bar preparation.