Oregon may drop bar exam for lawyers. It’s too hard?

By Taxpayers Association of Oregon


Oregon may drop the state bar exam requirement for future lawyers.

A task force of the Oregon Board of Bar Examiners has made the recommendation after the American Bar Association (ABA) released new data showing race and gender disparities in bar exam score outcomes.The bar exam is known as one of the toughest and most difficult exams in America.

The proposal to remove the bar exam could could have unexpected and unintended outcomes for an industry famous for not having any allowance for error.   Current lawyers worry that it could dilute the standards of the profession and the success of those who have passed the exam that has been a requirement for over 100 years in Oregon.

The task force recommended that potential attorneys be allowed to either take the bar exam or be admitted to the profession on the merits of coursework and practical experience.

This potential change appears to have been spurred on by the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2020, the Oregon Supreme Court, comprised of some of the state’s most powerful lawyers, lifted the requirement that law school students pass the bar exam to graduate after the state’s top law schools requested it (Willamette, Lewis & Clark, and UO).

The Oregon Supreme Court was due to decide on the monumental change on July 7, but needs more time to make a decision.

If enacted and future lawyers wanted to practice law in other states, they would need to take the bar exam.