Oregon’s Alternative Pathway to the Bar Proves Popular

Here are excerpts from an article in the ABA Journal:

Oregon’s new Supervised Practice Portfolio Examination that allows ABA-accredited law school graduates to join the state’s bar by working closely with a supervising attorney instead of taking the bar exam is gaining traction with candidates and potential employers.

The additional pathway allows applicants to complete a 675-hour paid apprenticeship under a qualified, supervising Oregon-licensed lawyer. Requirements include leading “at least two initial client interviews or client counseling sessions” and “at least two negotiations,” along with “the production of at least eight pieces of written work product.”

Oregon’s additional pathway aims to strengthen real-world lawyering skills. Almost half of law firm associates say law school didn’t prepare them for practice, with a lack of training in practical experience cited most often as the reason, according to a recent study by recruiting firm Major, Lindsey & Africa and Leopard Solutions, a legal data intelligence provider.

In May, the council of the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar approved a policy shift that now allows states to use methods of licensure beyond the traditional bar exam.

That blessing could encourage other states to follow Oregon’s lead, says Brian Gallini, who served on that state bar’s Alternatives to the Exam Task Force.

Oregon firms of all sizes are considering bringing on these provisional attorneys, he says. “They say, ‘Look, if we want to be the employer of choice and this is what the market of graduates wants, we have to have a program,’” Gallini adds.

The new pathway has several benefits, sources say. One is operating much like a medical residency in a way that can help ease access to justice issues.


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