Hawaii Looks Into The Necessity of Requiring The Bar Exam

Hawaii Looks Into The Necessity of Requiring The Bar Exam

Steven D. Mewha is a practicing attorney in Honolulu, the president of the William S. Richardson Alumni Association, and a member of the Makiki Neighborhood Board. Mewha began to question the purpose of the bar exam in 2021 after reflecting on conversation with the former dean of Harvard Law School, Martha Minnow.

“After all, if the purpose of law school is to train you to be an attorney, why must we be tested twice?,” Mewha thought. “If the purpose of the bar exam is to ensure quality attorneys, why not have stricter standards on law school exams?”

Mewha believes there is no purpose  double testing law students at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa William S. Richardson School of Law: “Those who are not fit to practice law will either fail out of law school or will be unable to attract clients,” Mewha said. “The market will dictate the standards in the same way they dictate hourly rates for attorneys. There is simply no logical reason to subject students to “double testing” in order to practice law.”

Referencing a 2020 article in The Appeal, Mewha quotes, “In addition to the racist origins of bar examinations, little evidence supports the view that the exam actually protects the public by ensuring lawyers have a minimum level of competency,” The Appeal states. “Rather than test for competency, the bar exam instead tests law school graduates’ memorization and regurgitation abilities after three-months of non-stop studying.”

Mewha is still looking to make a systematic change in Hawaii with regard to the process of becoming a lawyer in the state.


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