State adopts plan to let lawyers bypass bar exam to practice law

 March 21, 2024

This story was originally published by the WND News Center.

Members of the leftist state Supreme Court in Washington have ruled that the bar exam for prospective lawyers is racist, so candidates can do something else to qualify, like do an apprenticeship or an internship.

Fox News said the court decided the traditional test "disproportionately and unnecessarily blocks marginalized groups from entering the practice of law."

Further, they said, it is "at best minimally effective for ensuring competent lawyers."

The court's Bar Licensure Task Force was suggesting that the test, in the past, has not been effective in keeping out incompetents.

The report said the judges found, "In addition to the racism and classism written into the test itself the time and financial costs of the test reinforce historical inequities in our profession."

The court assigned the task force several years ago to study possible alternatives after COVID-19 pandemic-related changes triggered questions about the value of the test.

The report noted, "The goal was to improve trust in the legal profession, reduce barriers to entry into the legal field, and advance the cause of diversity equity, and inclusion."

Going forward, those who graduate from traditional law school, which presumably does not itself "disproportionately and unnecessarily block marginalized groups from entering the practice of law," can complete a six-month apprenticeship with a lawyer and do three "state-approved" courses.

Or they can take 12 qualifying "skills credits" and 500 hours of work as an intern.

Or for those who want to dispense with law school entirely, they can finish "standardized educational materials and tests under the guidance of a mentoring lawyer, in addition to 500 hours of work as a legal intern," the report said.

Raquel Montoya-Lewis, a member of the state court, said lawyers are "desperately needed" in Washington, and the Seattle Times confirmed the state's public defender system is in danger of "breaking down" from staffing shortages.

Wisconsin and New Hampshire already offer alternatives and Oregon earlier approved alternatives to the bar exam and the change is to take effect in a few weeks.

A Fox affiliate said the bar exam still will be available, but the changes also mean the score required for passing is being lowered.

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