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: https://taskforces.osbar.org/files/Bar-Exam-Alternatives-TFReport.pdf.
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.