Work Hard and Give Back

Remarks from the high scorer of the Texas Bar Examination.

By Jeremy Dunbar


Jeremy Dunbar (center), the high scorer of the February 2016 Texas Bar Examination, with Texas Board of Law Examiners Executive Director Susan Henricks, Texas Supreme Court Justice Don R. Willett, Texas Supreme Court Chief Justice Nathan L. Hecht, and Texas Board of Law Examiners Member Cynthia Eva Hujar Orr.

Good morning, Chief Justice Hecht, justices, members of the bar, soon-to-be members of the bar, friends, family, and may it please the court. I want to begin by congratulating everyone who passed the February 2016 Texas Bar Exam. We did it.

Today matters.

Until now, our achievements seem to have been a means to an end. From being accepted into law school, to the MPRE, to graduating from law school, to preparing for the bar, taking the bar, and passing the bar. None of these things alone really seemed to matter. But today matters—because today is the culmination of our hard, hard work. Today, we become attorneys.

Congratulations. I am honored to be a part of today’s ceremony.

Now someone told me that if I limited my speech to a “reasonable” length, I would gain points with the justices. I want to gain points with the justices. So I will be brief.

Someone else told me that if they didn’t get a shoutout today, I wouldn’t be alive for any gained points with said justices to matter. I want to live. So I will begin by thanking a few very special people.

I want to thank my parents: two people who have supported me from the beginning. Thank you. I owe everything to you.

I would like to thank my beautiful girlfriend, Hailey Janecka, who is also becoming a lawyer with us today. We met in law school. It has been an intense journey, but I would not trade it for anything.

Finally, I want to thank my alma mater, South Texas College of Law, for preparing us for the world we are about to enter. During my time there, every professor I took expected my absolute best. Now, as we all know, this does not in any way equate with fun. But the professors and deans at South Texas pushed us beyond what we figured we were capable of, and the staff was always there to answer any questions we had.

South Texas has produced two of the justices who are sitting with us today: Justice Guzman and Justice Devine. Thank you both for your hard work and everything you have given to South Texas. You are appreciated.

In a few minutes a very important person will approach this podium. But before that happens I would like to share two things that my alma mater instilled in us as being crucial to fulfillment in this profession: We must work hard, and we must give back.

One of my favorite professors, Byron Davis, was largely responsible for the “hard work” part.

He used to say: It doesn’t matter how smart you are. It doesn’t matter where you come from. It doesn’t matter how bad the facts of your case may be. You must dance with the one who brung ya.

Now, I wasn’t sure what he meant when he first said that, but I think I get it now. What matters, once we become members of this honorable profession, is simple: hard, disciplined, relentless work. So as we begin this new chapter— starting, once again, at the bottom— let’s be inspired by those who came before us to do our best.

Likewise, just as we are inspired by our predecessors, let’s inspire our successors. Let’s give back. To our schools, to our communities, and perhaps most pressingly, to those for whom being an attorney is still just an idea. We all had mentors over the years that encouraged us to stay strong. Now, let’s do the same.

I think Martin Luther King Jr. said it best when he said:

Everyone has the power for greatness, not for fame but for greatness, because greatness is determined by service.

As we begin our journey as attorneys, let’s remember our duty to serve, to work hard, and to give back.

Thank you for listening to me. Congratulations. And let’s enjoy this moment. TBJ

February 2016 Bar Exam Pass Rate Information

The table below shows the number of graduates from each accredited Texas law school who took the bar exam for the first time in February, the number that passed, and the percentage that passed.

Law School

Tested

Passed

Pass Rate

Baylor

30

23

76.67%

SMU

32

24

75.00%

South Texas

91

59

64.84%

St. Mary's

45

33

73.33%

Texas A&M

50

35

70.00%

Texas Southern

29

12

41.38%

Texas Tech

16

12

75.00%

U. of Houston

30

25

83.33%

U. of Texas

13

10

76.92%

Total

336

223

69.35%

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