Guest Column

The Oregon State Bar alternative bar examination proposals serve to reduce minimum competency for Oregon attorneys and must be declined by the court.

On June 25, the Oregon Board of Bar Examiners forwarded three proposals to the court.

The proposals present two alternatives to the Oregon bar examination and seek to reduce the bar exam’s minimum passing score, thus effectively reducing the minimum competency for bar admission. The proposals feebly claim to maintain consumer protection while “prioritizing equity in the admissions” of Oregon lawyers. The proposed bar examination alternatives (the Oregon Experiential Pathway program and the Supervised Practice Pathway program ) are resource intensive and lack a substantive road map for construction, implementation or maintenance. The board’s report and proposals can be found at:

While there may be reasonable reason to modify traditional bar testing in a manner that promotes competent representation of every and all persons in need of legal representation in this state, the bar examination alternative proposals cannot withstand scrutiny. Instead of ensuring Oregon consumer rights to competent representation, they are put forth to provide a subjective pathway self-proclaimed to “prioritize equity in the admissions” of Oregon attorneys. In other words, rather than ensuring access to justice and the best representation of Oregon consumers in need, the proposals are socially engineered for the purpose of subjectively reducing competency standards for the sake of equity.

To become an attorney, the academic rigors, years of schooling and personal sacrifice are well-known. The process is an intellectual marathon that demands issue spotting, application of the law and critical and logical analysis that only the most determined, disciplined, confident and dedicated applicant can complete. In this light, the Oregon Bar should only license attorneys via a rigorous bar examination where only those individuals who are best suited to excel and learn the necessary skills that will allow them to succeed in our great justice system are licensed. To the contrary, these new bar alternative proposals make it crystal clear in Oregon, that “equity” (aka affirmative action, race, gender, identity politics, etc.) will play a disturbingly large role to licensing attorneys.

The America system is unique in the world and throughout history. The American system demands and guarantees every American regardless of race, gender, nation origin, religion, education, economic status et al. with an “equal” opportunity to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. The Oregon Board of Bar Examiners proposals, which prioritize “equity,” equate to a fool’s errand to guarantee an equal outcome and betrayal of the American ethos. Indeed, once a tool that sought to eliminate race from the employment process — to promote equality — equity is now the dominant force that counters racism with more racism.

Here, the proposed bar examination alternatives to prioritize equity in the admissions of Oregon lawyers sends a loud and clear message that those who can’t pass the traditional bar aren’t good enough to attain their goals on their own. Indeed, it communicates not so subtlety that some attorney “candidates“ of a favored constituency of the party in power requires a “handicap” sanctioned by the government to get to where they want to be. These are in fact the same injustices that Americans have and continue to diligently fight against.

Modifying traditional bar testing in a manner that promotes competent representation of every and all persons in need of legal representation in this state is not objectionable. However, while there is no right to be a lawyer, Oregon consumers possess the absolute right to competent representation. Feckless diminishment of Oregon State Bar competency standards to prioritize “equity” for persons to join the bar simply ignores the rights of the very people lawyers are ethically obliged to protect. Our bar is precious, is in place to promote equity in law and client representation, and simply cannot be compromised by socially engineered efforts to diminish its competence.

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D. Rockey Goodell lives in Bend.

(2) comments

Smedley Doright


Lower standards and get predictable results


Increase quality of education for everyone and improve lives of all.

Option B is racist.


It is being proposed that we should lower standards, what ever they may be in order to achieve equal outcome. However, this is nothing more than telling minorities that they are not able to make it without special assistance and that they do not have to try as hard as everyone else. We are doing this by rationalizing intrinsic class problems as racism, when there is no evidence of systemic racism. Identifying the wrong problem leads to an incorrect solution, which will lead to failure. The fact that there is a difference between 2 groups of people, whether it be based on race, age, gender, geographic location etc., does not mean that all differences between the races can only be explained by discrimination of one of the 2 groups. In fact there are usually quite a few other reasons to explain differences between any 2 groups we would wish to compare. We have had at least 50 years of affirmative action and it is clear to me at least based on my experience that minorities have the advantage when it comes to hiring, University admissions and financial assistance, yet they have failed to grasp the opportunity afforded to them by the melanin content in their skin. Perhaps it is not racism that best explains the differences between races. It would seem to me that always telling minorities that they are oppressed everywhere they go, that no matter what or how hard they try, that they would not succeed, perhaps this is a better explanation for why they do not succeed.

Consider this, that African immigrants and first generation African-Americans do better than multigeneration American blacks financially, educationally and in regards to crime rates. Even when it comes to Covid vaccinations, black Americans are getting the vaccination at a much lower rate than every other group and are suffering the worst decrease in average life expectancy compared to every other group. Hispanics perform better than multigeneration American Blacks, and in fact Asians do better than most white people. When one starts to look in detail at the success of various groups of people based on race, it becomes apparent that the set of facts do not support systemic racism. However, by focusing on systemic racism I believe we will increase systemic racism by all groups. We are going backwards due to the race hustlers BLM, COBLA, and Peacekeepers.

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