Matthew Graham is a young Black lawyer from Baltimore who has made history by scoring 309 out of 400 on the Maryland bar exam, placing him in the 94th percentile of all test-takers. He achieved this feat on his first attempt, while juggling a full-time job, a new marriage and a baby daughter. His emotional reaction to his score went viral on social media and caught the attention of national media outlets.
But Graham’s story is not just about numbers. It’s about overcoming adversity, pursuing passion and making a difference. It’s about inspiring others to follow their dreams and fight for justice.
From Baltimore to Law School
Graham grew up in Baltimore, a city that has been plagued by violence, poverty and racial inequality. He witnessed firsthand the injustices that many Black people face in the criminal justice system. He decided to pursue a career in law to make a difference in his community and fight for justice.
“I always tell people that you have to believe in yourself before anybody else will believe in you,” Graham said in an interview with The Washington Post. “You have to be confident in your abilities and your potential.”
He enrolled in the University of Baltimore School of Law in 2020, after completing his undergraduate degree at Morgan State University. He had to balance his studies with a full-time job as a paralegal, as well as being a new husband and father. He also faced financial difficulties and had to take out loans to pay for his education.
Despite these obstacles, Graham excelled in his law school classes and graduated in December 2022, one semester early. He ranked 7th in his class with an outstanding 3.6 GPA and magna cum laude honors. He also received several awards and scholarships for his academic achievements and leadership skills.
Breaking the Bar Exam Record
Graham knew that passing the bar exam was not going to be easy. He had to study hard and review everything he learned in law school. He also had to deal with the pressure and anxiety that comes with taking such a high-stakes test.
He took the exam in February 2023, after months of preparation. He waited anxiously for two months until he received his results in April. His wife, Ciara Graham, 29, and their 11-month-old daughter, Celine, stood over his shoulder as he opened the email.
He couldn’t believe what he saw. He scored a 309 on the state’s bar exam, landing in the 94th percentile after taking it only once. The average passing score is about 266, and many candidates take the exam at least three times.
He burst into tears of joy and relief. He hugged his wife and daughter and thanked God for his blessing. He posted a video of his reaction on his Facebook page, which quickly went viral and touched the hearts of many.
“We know how difficult it is for us to pass this exam,” Graham said in an interview with Black Enterprise. “The barriers that are in our way, the bar exam, African Americans, we score the lowest on the bar exam historically. And I don’t think that it’s just enough to say, ‘Oh, it’s just because you guys didn’t work as hard or you guys aren’t as smart.’ No
Ever heard of Stanley Nweke-Eze. A young Nigerian lawyer who has achieved the impressive feat of earning two master’s degrees in law from Harvard University and the University of Cambridge, two of the most prestigious universities in the world. He is also admitted to practise law in Nigeria, New York and England & Wales, and has worked at international law firms in London before joining Templars, a leading Nigerian law firm.
His story and educational journey are inspiring and remarkable. He graduated with a first-class honours degree from Nnamdi Azikwe University, Nigeria, where he won several top academic prizes, including for brief-writing and advocacy. He then proceeded to pursue his first master’s degree in international law at Harvard Law School, where he was an editor of several journals, such as the Harvard International Law Journal, the Harvard Negotiation Law Review, and the Harvard Africa Policy Journal. He also participated in various moot court competitions and conferences.
After completing his degree at Harvard, he applied for and received a scholarship to study for another master’s degree in commercial law at the University of Cambridge. There, he continued to excel academically and professionally, serving as an editor of the Cambridge Journal of International and Comparative Law, and working as a research assistant for Professor Catherine Barnard, a leading expert on EU law. Continue reading Stanley’s story here.