Cergy Students All Pass New York Bar Exam for the Third Straight Year
February 2, 2010
Before Xavier Leroux came to Vermont Law School, he looked at South Royalton on Google maps and found the satellite image to be disconcertingly green compared to the urban gray of Paris, where he attended the University of Cergy-Pontoise.
"I thought, ‘Where are all the buildings?' he said, smiling. "It was nothing like Paris."
Leroux recently joined the growing number of Cergy students who received a Master of Laws (LLM) in American Legal Studies from the VLS International and Comparative Law programs before passing the bar exam in the United States.
The three Cergy LLM students who took the New York bar exam last July all passed, marking the third consecutive year that all of Vermont Law School's Cergy LLM students passed the New York bar. The Master of Laws in American Legal Studies is an advanced professional degree in law awarded to candidates who have already earned their first law degree from a jurisdiction outside the United States. The LLM prepares the returning lawyer or recent law graduate with the skills and knowledge required for transnational practice or other legal work requiring knowledge of multiple legal systems and competency in multiple languages.
Leroux, Cecile Michel and Emilie Dubreil, who graduated from VLS last spring, returned in January to be sworn in to the New York Bar Association in a ceremony in Albany, N.Y. They were joined by their Cergy and VLS classmate, Djenebou Ouattara, who received a LLM in Environmental Law.
Afterward, the four stopped in South Royalton to visit friends and faculty, including Professor Stephanie Farrior, director of the International and Comparative Law programs.
According to the New York State Bar Association, the number of foreign-educated candidates sitting for the exam continues to rise. Last July, 26 percent of the 11,532 candidates taking the exam were foreign-educated.
The pass rate was 88.2 percent for U.S.-educated first-time takers and 46.2 percent for foreign-educated first-time takers.
Farrior said the Cergy LLM graduates' 100 percent success rate at the New York bar exam is impressive.
"Special thanks go to Giuliana Robertson (assistant professor of law and director of the academic success program) for her guidance, training and encouragement of these students throughout the past year and to all the faculty and staff whose contributions led to their success," Farrior said.
Dubreil said studying at Vermont Law School enabled her to visit the United States and prepared her well to practice transnational law. She works at a Paris law firm and hopes to eventually practice in New York City.
"I loved my time at Vermont Law School, especially the close relationships with the professors and other students," she said.
Dubreil said VLS's partnership with Cergy allows the French students to adapt quickly to a foreign setting, although it was a challenge initially to adjust to the Socratic method and to speaking only English.
"Everyone went out of their way to make us welcome," she said.
Ouattara plans to get an LLM in American Legal Studies at New York University and to practice environmental and business law.
"VLS was very community-oriented and the students, faculty and staff are very helpful," she said. "It was easy to make friends."
Leroux came to Vermont Law School not only to prepare for a law career but to improve his English. Like his Cergy classmates, he hopes to practice law in the United States, France and other nations.
"Before coming here, I didn't realize how helpful everyone would be," he said. "It made all the difference."