Oregon Approves Alternative Licensing Program for Aspiring Lawyers

Oregon Approves Alternative Licensing Program for Aspiring Lawyers

The Oregon Supreme Court recently greenlit a new path for law school graduates to become fully licensed attorneys in the state without taking the bar exam. Beginning in May 2024, aspiring lawyers can opt to complete a Supervised Practice Portfolio Examination instead.

Through this alternative program, individuals would gain 675 hours of on-the-job legal experience while working under a mentoring attorney. They must also develop a portfolio composed of at least eight written works and documentation of leading at least two client interviews, counseling sessions, and negotiations. This collection would then be evaluated by the Oregon Board of Bar Examiners.

If the portfolio demonstrates competency, the candidate will become eligible for bar admission. This pathway aims to provide a more practical assessment of skills for practice compared to the traditional exam. Notably, it is open to graduates of both in-state and out-of-state institutions – a rarity among other existing alternative models in Wisconsin and New Hampshire.

Oregon had instituted temporary diploma privileges during the pandemic’s disruptions like some other states. However, this new program offers a permanence option beyond that. The board also intends to create a second option involving practice-focused legal education over the final two years of law school. But the supervised program will launch first in order to introduce more innovation to attorney licensing.

As scrutiny against the exams has increased regarding adequate preparation for legal careers, Oregon’s portfolio assessment could prove influential if successfully implemented. A revised national bar exam is also upcoming in 2026 with strengthened skills-based components.


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