Oregon Supreme Court lowers bar passage standard

The Oregon Supreme Court voted to waive the July bar exam required for 2020 Oregon law school graduates in a June 29 public meeting. 

The court decision came after the three Oregon law school deans wrote a letter to the Oregon Supreme Court expressing concern for law students whose preparation for the high stakes exam was hindered by the “dire home circumstances due to COVID-19.” 

“Given the turmoil our nation has endured over the past three months, the continued disruptions in the daily lives of our graduates, and the recent resurgence of COVID-19 in Oregon, it is difficult to imagine how any bar examination administered in July could be considered either prudent or fair,” the deans wrote in the letter. 

The court also lowered the minimum passing score from 274 to 266 for the July exam, according to a statement from the court, and authorized the Oregon bar to be offered remotely in October.

October’s online-only exam will not be a Uniform Bar Examination — a standardized bar exam law graduates are required to take in order to practice law. People who pass October’s exam won’t be eligible to join the bar in other states unless they pass additional exams.

The court also acknowledged that the circumstances due to the coronavirus pandemic has had an “unequal impact” on applicants registered for the July 2020 Oregon Bar examination. 

The court granted an “emergency diploma privilege” to 2020 graduates who had applied for the Oregon bar examination by May 30, 2020, ” according to the court order.