People often ask me if it is difficult to become a lawyer. I really did not think it was that difficult to become a lawyer, it just took a lot of hard work. The work was manageable and similar to someone that is working long hours or two jobs. However, there is also the Bar Exam. Bar exams are the State's crucible meant to see if you have what it takes to become a lawyer. The test seems to be difficult for many people and was not easy by any means. Having taken both the California Bar Exam and the Oregon Bar Exam. I have a unique perspective on the Oregon bar exam.
Bar Exams are difficult multi-day tests that involve questions on various areas of law. In California it was a three day test and in Oregon it was a two day test. These test take an enormous amount of time to prepare for and they are expensive to take. After passing both exams I am not sure they should be a requirement to practice law, but the politicians/lawyers apparently find some value in the test so here we are.
My suspicions on the value of the test were confirmed this Summer when the July 2016 Oregon Bar Exam results came out. The Oregon State Bar Website notes only 58% of the people that took the Oregon Bar Exam passed it. This is a historic low bar passage rate. You have to wonder why the pass rate was so low. I was always told that if a few students failed a test it was a problem with the students, but if numerous people failed the test then it is a problem with the test. I think that may be the issue here, but apparently their is a trend of low bar passage rates around the Country.
Could this be because portions of the test are standardized by Corporations? Could this be that Law Schools are doing a lousy job preparing students to take the Bar Exam? Could this be that the States are increasing standards to keep lawyers from flooding into a particular state. I don't know the answer to these questions but I am sure there are some savvy law students that are eager to investigate these issues.
Congratulations to all of the people that took the Oregon and California Bar Exams.