Lowering the Bar: Wash. St. Supreme Court Rules Lawyers No Longer Have to Pass the Bar Exam

Nick Kangadis | March 19, 2024
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I don’t get it. I really don’t. Don’t people in “marginalized groups” get insulted when standards are lowered, with the people doing it basically saying that they need to do so in order to get more diversity into whichever system they’re lowering the standards for? If someone came to me and said, ‘We see you’re having a problem passing this exam, so we’re going to lower the threshold so your dumbass can finally pass it,’ I’d be pissed off. But, to each their own, I suppose.

Apparently now, in Washington state, you will no longer be required to pass the bar exam to become a lawyer, according to a state Supreme Court ruling last Friday.

Yeah, I know. And guess why they made this decision…

You probably guessed it, but as The Spokesman-Review reported, “The Bar Licensure Task Force found that the traditional exam ‘disproportionately and unnecessarily block’ marginalized groups from becoming practicing attorneys and is ‘at best minimally effective’ for ensuring competency.”

Sure, because knowing the laws and specific cases as examples of the law is “minimally effective for ensuring competency.” And as far as essentially lowering standards to benefit “marginalized groups,” that should be a slap in the face to any prospective lawyer who truly wants to be the best attorney they can possibly become.

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The problem with this move is that the alternatives exist, but the details of it have yet to emerge. That’s like starting a job you have no experience in, but there’s no training available in how to do it.

According to The Spokesman-Review:

There will be three experiential-learning alternatives to the bar exam, each for people following a different path of legal study. The specifics, scale and implementation plan for the pathways have yet to be developed.

Law school graduates can complete a six-month apprenticeship while being supervised and guided by a qualified attorney, along with finishing three courses.

Law students can become practice-ready by completing 12 qualifying skills credits and 500 hours of work as a licensed legal intern. Upon completion of those requirements, they would submit a portfolio of that work to waive the bar exam.

I don’t know anymore. Maybe I’m wrong. But, it feels at times that we currently live in upside-down land.


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