“Oregon Leads the Way with Their Groundbreaking Bar-Exam Alternative!
Oregon recently unveiled an alternative to the bar exam, becoming the first state to do so. Dubbed the “Oregon Lawyer Performance Assessment” (OLPA), this new program is an innovative way to test the abilities and qualifications of potential lawyers. The OLPA program was designed by the Oregon State Bar Examining Board, in collaboration with the Oregon Law School. According to board chairman Josh Martony, the new program seeks to “ensure that new law graduates can competently practice law from day one.” The OLPA is a two-part assessment focusing on legal research and writing and the practice of law. It is administered online and requires applicants to complete three essays. The first two essays are designed to gauge applicants’ legal knowledge, while the third requires them to write a legal memorandum. Applicants also have to take a 30-minute written test, which focuses on professional responsibility topics. In order to pass the OLPA, applicants must score at least 80% on each component. Additionally, they must take and pass the Oregon Practicing Attorney Examination, or OPTE, within eighteen months of passing the OLPA. The changes to the bar exam come as a result of increasing dissatisfaction with the use of the bar exam alone as a measure of competency. There has been a push for alternatives that focus on practical skills and qualifications more than simply passing a multiple-choice test. For those looking to begin their legal career in Oregon, the OLPA will undoubtedly provide a better way to demonstrate their qualifications for practice. The OLPA is a convenient and efficient way to test potential lawyers and accurately measure their knowledge and skills. This is an important step toward ensuring competence in the practice of law, and Oregon is the first state to offer such a solution.