Oregon has become the first U.S. state to offer an alternative pathway for attorney licensing, allowing law school graduates to become licensed lawyers without the traditional bar exam or graduating from an in-state law school. The new pathway, called the Supervised Practice Portfolio Examination, requires graduates to complete 675 hours of legal work under the guidance of experienced attorneys. Candidates must also submit legal writing samples, conduct client interviews, and oversee negotiation processes. The Oregon State Board of Bar Examiners will grade participants, and those with qualifying scores will be admitted to the state bar. This new licensing pathway aims to provide more flexibility to aspiring lawyers, particularly in response to the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Oregon’s alternative pathway to attorney licensing has sparked a national conversation around licensure reform. The state’s Task Force has integrated diverse perspectives to address the limitations of the current bar exam and create a more equitable and accessible path to legal licensure. By prioritizing flexibility, accessibility, and evidence-based approaches, Oregon is setting an example for other states. This initiative aligns with the evolving needs of the legal profession, signalling a promising future for a more diverse, adaptable, and client-focused legal community.