Law School News

STCL Houston Graduate Top Scorer on the Texas Bar Exam

Despite exhaustive study for the February 2017 Texas bar exam, treating test preparation like a full-time job, new alumna Michelle Haws experienced the significant anxiety of any first-time bar exam applicant.

All this angst ended for the recent graduate with one phone call from Justice Don Willett. “I was just hoping I had passed the Texas bar, so learning I had tied for the highest score was surprising and very exciting,” she said.

Haws follows in the footsteps of South Texas alumnus and valedictorian Jeremy Dunbar ’15, who took the honor of top scorer on the February 2016 Texas bar exam.

Haws, who began work as an associate in Strasburger & Price’s Houston industry litigation group last week, is no stranger to hard work – a characteristic that served her well in the weeks before the exam.

Her advice for future bar exam takers: “There is no shortcut. Stay on top of things. I knew what topics the bar exam could cover, so I put in the work to study those subjects and made sure I had mastered them by test day.

“The most important thing I did at South Texas, though, was taking lots of bar classes,” she continued. “It was much easier to prepare for the bar knowing I wasn’t learning every topic from square one.”

Haws, who competed on an alternative dispute resolution team as a law student, worked as a research assistant, and completed a clerkship at a boutique employment firm prior to graduation, also understands the value of rest. “While preparing for the bar exam, it also helped to come up for air,” she said. “Knowing that I had at least one fun thing each weekend like a concert, dinner out with my husband, or a girls’ night made it easier to buckle down and be productive during the week.”

With the pressure of exam preparation behind her, Haws and her husband enjoy taking their 11-year-old rescue dog Leopold on walks and to the dog park. And, with her father – South Texas alumnus Thomas Leibowitz – and her mother living nearby, she regularly joins her parents and their two dogs for relaxing family time.