Dwayne Allen Thomas

Many people fail when they should succeed. I learned this after 91% of the African-American students in my law school class passed the 2013 New York State bar exam. Only 50% passed in 2012 and 2014. The catalyst for the class of 2013’s performance was fear – U.S. News and World Report changed its methodology, shuffling the rankings, dropping my school 17 positions two months before we started studying for the bar exam.

My classmates panicked. Many believed they wouldn’t get jobs because of our new ranking. They poured themselves into their work, ignoring any thought other than “I have to pass.” And they did – not only the African-Americans at my school, not only the entire class of 2013 at my school, but students across the state who might have otherwise failed.

When the class of 2014’s pass rate returned to normal, I realized that for some students, psychology is at play. You can have the skills you need to do well and still fail to prepare or perform because of what’s going on in your head. Fear helped my class to succeed, but there are better ways to ensure success than waiting for shocking, unexpected events.

More people can achieve their goals more often, and not just in law school. We can know why some don’t do as well as they could and how they can live up to their potential.  Helping to make this happen – producing equal results – is the goal of my work.


Bachelor of Business Administration, Finance, Bernard M. Baruch College
Master of Applied Positive Psychology, University of Pennsylvania
Juris Doctor, Brooklyn Law School


Elected Student Commencement Speaker (BLS, 2013)
3L of the Year (BLS Black Law Students Association, 2013)
SBA President’s Award for Public Service (BLS, 2013)
Alumnus of the Year (BLS BLSA, 2014)
Christopher Peterson Memorial Fellowship (2015, UPenn)


(2017) 3 Ways to Keep Conversations on Track. High Performance Institute

(2017) Two New Views of Learned Helplessness. Positive Psychology News

(2017) Positive Psychology is Not Equivalent to Positive Thinking. Positive Psychology News

(2016) Channeling the River: Using Positive Psychology to Prevent Cultural Helplessness, as Applied to African-American Law Students[Master’s Thesis]

(2015) Could Bar Exam Pass Rates be Returning to Normal? New York Law Journal

(2014) The Art of Saying I Don’t KnowNew York County Lawyer

(2014) What is Business Development (And Five Tips For Developing Your Business). 

(2014) Three Networking Tips You Might Not Have