CLEO, Inc.


NCBE and CLEO Extend Partnership to Improve Equity and Access in the Legal Profession

MADISON, WISCONSIN, December 11, 2023 — The National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE) and the Council on Legal Education Opportunity, Inc. (CLEO) have announced that the two organizations are extending their partnership for an additional three years. The partnership, currently in its sixth year, provides assistance for students from underrepresented communities throughout law school and as they prepare to take the bar exam, with the aim of supporting increased equity and access in the legal profession.

NCBE will contribute approximately $500,000 over the next three years to continue funding the NCBE/CLEO Bar Passage Program, bringing the total NCBE has committed since the program’s inception in 2018 to nearly $1,300,000.

The Bar Passage Program provides comprehensive support to students beginning in their first year of law school. Students in the program receive academic support and seminars targeted to the areas tested on the bar exam and training on how to prepare for and take the exam, including individualized performance feedback and one-on-one mentoring.

The partnership between CLEO and NCBE has also made important contributions to research related to bar passage. Pre- and post-bar exam surveys and interviews with CLEO participants have provided data helping to identify the most important factors influencing bar passage, and CLEO students have also participated in research testing for the NextGen bar exam.

“We can’t thank NCBE enough for their commitment to our CLEO law students. We are fortunate to have such an incredible ongoing partnership with NCBE and their visionary Board. NCBE’s continued support of CLEO is a testament to our 55 years of serving as one of the country’s preeminent law school pipelines,” said Juan Carlos Polanco, CLEO’s President and Chief Executive Officer.

“NCBE is pleased to be extending its partnership with CLEO, building on the work we’ve done over the last five years to take meaningful steps toward improving access to bar exam preparation and the legal profession,” said NCBE President Judith Gundersen. “As we prepare to launch the NextGen bar exam in 2026, we remain firm in our commitment to a competent, ethical, and diverse legal profession.”

More than 700 students have received support from the Bar Support Program since it began.


About the National Conference of Bar Examiners

The National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE), headquartered in Madison, Wisconsin, is a not-for-profit corporation founded in 1931. NCBE promotes fairness, integrity, and best practices in bar admissions for the benefit and protection of the public, in pursuit of its vision of a competent, ethical, and diverse legal profession. Best known for developing bar exam content used by 54 US jurisdictions, NCBE serves admission authorities, courts, the legal education community, and candidates by providing high-quality assessment products, services, and research; character investigations; and informational and educational resources and programs. In 2026, NCBE will launch the next generation of the bar examination, ensuring that the exam continues to test the knowledge, skills, and abilities required for competent entry-level legal practice in a changing profession. For more information, visit the NCBE website at

About the Council on Legal Education Opportunity, Inc.

CLEO, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization committed to diversifying the legal profession by expanding legal education opportunities for persons from traditionally under-represented racial and ethnic groups, low-income, and disadvantaged communities. Founded in 1968, when the number of lawyers of color was less than one percent, CLEO has since had more than 30,000 high school, college, prelaw, and law students participate in its programs. CLEO alumni have excelled in every area of the legal profession to include judges, corporate attorneys, law school deans and professors, practitioners, and politicians. More information about CLEO, its 50+ year history, and its programs can be found at and


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Media Contact:
Dominique Moss, M.Ed.
Director of Law School Initiatives
(240) 582-8600