NYC Law Department invests in bar retakers, yields results for the city

May 10, 2024 By New York City Corporation Counsel Sylvia O. Hinds-Radix, Special to the Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Hon. Sylvia Hinds-Radix, New York City Corporation Counsel, spearheads innovative programs to support bar retakers at the NYC Law Department that helped to boost pass rates and reinforce the department's commitment to excellence in public service. Brooklyn Eagle photo by Robert Abruzzese
Share this:

When I began serving as corporation counsel in 2022, the Law Department, like other public law offices across the nation, faced a significant retention and hiring problem. One of my top priorities was to strengthen our programs to ensure we attracted and retained the staff we needed to remain the finest public law office in the country.  Among our dedicated staff were individuals who we hired prior to taking the bar but did not pass.

Our bar retakers at the Law Department made a commitment to public service and to the City of New York, and we have spent a significant amount of resources recruiting and training them. It is important that we continue investing in these individuals so that they can assist in carrying out our mission as attorneys for the city. To accomplish this objective, I collaborated with our dedicated Law Department team and New York Law School to develop an innovative program to enhance our support for these bar retakers.

I am pleased to acknowledge that nearly 52% of our bar retakers who sat for the February 2024 exam have passed. This figure is significantly higher than the 33% overall pass rate for retakers in New York State.

Subscribe to our newsletters

Through this worthwhile program, the city, without further outside recruitment, has now gained fourteen new individuals who can, after all of their requirements have been met, be admitted as attorneys and appear in court on the behalf of the city.

Retaking the bar exam is a stressful endeavor, especially for recent law school graduates who are working full-time and do not have access to the resources and time needed to adequately prepare for this challenging test. The obstacles are greater for those public servants, such as several of our assistant corporation counsels, who have student loans to repay and children or other family members to support. Taking unpaid leave from work to prepare for the bar exam may be unrealistic, if not impossible.

The program offered by the Law Department allowed our bar retakers to focus exclusively on studying for the bar exam — without taking unpaid leave – through a highly structured program at New York Law School. Participants followed a rigorous training schedule, which included in-person coaching and tutoring with the school’s bar prep experts, 12 learning sessions, simulated practice tests, and study assignments. Participants had access to the school’s learning tools and mentorship from Law Department staff. They were also required to check in every week with their Law Department supervisor to detail their progress.

I am remarkably proud of the results we have achieved through this program, and I am inspired by the feedback received from the dedicated participants who expressed gratitude for the difference this opportunity has made for their lives.

I am grateful to New York Law School Dean Anthony Crowell and his entire team for their longstanding collaboration with the Law Department. The law school has helped shape the legal landscape of our city, and its alumni are among the many dedicated Law Department attorneys working tirelessly to leave the City of New York in a better place than we found it.

Finally, I commend the exceptional Law Department team who provided invaluable mentorship to our bar retakers, helping them reach their full potential. They work every day to reinforce the values of excellence, integrity, and teamwork, which have been the longstanding hallmarks of this office.

Leave a Comment

Leave a Comment