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Dean and Students Level the Playing Field for Bar Exam Standards

August 28, 2017

For the first time, Oregon July bar exam results will be judged by a standard that is closer to that of national norms. Earlier in the year, the Oregon Supreme Court adopted the recommendations of the Board of Bar Examiners (BBX) to set the pass score at 274, lowering it from its historic score of 284.

“The recommendation of 274 is made after careful study by a workgroup that included members of BBX as well as representatives from Oregon’s three law schools,” wrote Jeffrey A. Howes, chair, Board of Bar Examiners.

Lewis & Clark Law School Dean Jennifer Johnson had lobbied for years for the change. “It was blatantly unfair,” she explained. “On virtually the same bar exam, our students needed 284 points to pass the Oregon test but only 270 points to pass in Washington.

Lewis & Clark student bar association president and vice president joined with their colleagues at Oregon law schools and wrote their own letter in support of the change. They noted the change would allow for “increasingly diverse membership” and avoid “exiling recent graduates of Oregon law schools who did not meet the burdensome standard and need employment to pay back student loans.”

Regardless of the change in bar standard, the extensive bar exam prep programs offered at Lewis & Clark will continue to be robust. “We remain committed to our goal that every student pass the bar exam if they choose to take it,” remarked Sandy Patrick, Professor of Lawyering and author of A Lawyer Writes: A Practical Guide to Legal Analysis, and A Lawyer Persuades: A Practical Guide to Writing Documents for the Court.

Dean Johnson will be on Oregon Public Broadcasting’s radio program Think Out Loud today at noon to discuss. Listen here

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