At the House of Delegates meeting in November, 2016, Danny Lang proposed to the Oregon Board of Governors that the Bar consider an alternative pathway for someone to sit the Oregon Bar Exam without having an accredited law school degree. The Bar appointed a committee to review the concept, giving us two discrete charges:
- “Writing for the Bar” is a concept that would allow a person to sit for the Oregon Bar Exam and become licensed as a lawyer without attending law school. It would require a change to the admissions rules and provide one option to reduce law school debt.
- Change the admissions rules to require only two years of law school in order to become a lawyer in Oregon, rather than the current requirement of three years.
As of 2018, there are six states who have done similar concepts of one or the other charges, with wildly varying results. Maine and New York both offer law students the ability to work their ‘third’ year of law school rather than take scholastic classes. Other states, Virginia, California, Vermont, and Washington, offer a reading for the bar approach, in which individuals study under the tutelage of a lawyer.
As a committee, we have been charged with exploring the best practices of each of those states’ and offer a nuanced proposal which will maintain Oregon’s high standards of legal quality for an applicant to sit for the Oregon Bar Exam.