UO law school alum pass bar at high rates

Last July, 87 out of 118 graduates of the University of Oregon School of Law took the bar exam, the test that allows individuals to practice law in a given jurisdiction. The results, which were released late September, revealed that 83 percent of UO Law alum who took the Oregon …

University of Oregon students with a 3.5 GPA upon graduation and an SAT or ACT score in the top 85th percentile will not be required to take the Law School Admissions Test to apply to the UO School of Law. 

Currently, 14% of UO law school students are“double ducks,” or UO undergraduate alums, according to Assistant Dean of Admissions Sarah Keiski, who spearheaded the policy change to increase the pipeline of UO undergraduates into the law school.

“It feels great to be in law school in a place you're comfortable in,” Keiski said. She said she hopes that keeping UO graduates in a place they’ve called home for four years will help them succeed in their next phase of life.

Under American Bar Association rules, schools are allowed to admit 10 percent of their class without requiring an LSAT score. The ABA typically requires the LSAT because it acts as an indicator to how well law school graduates will perform on the bar exam. UO will use the SAT and ACT scores to look for this same level of competence on standardized testing, according to Keiski. The GPA will gauge the applicants’ strength in academics.

First-year UO law school student and double duck Rachael Wilson said the LSAT is costly in both time and money and would have been beneficial to her to avoid it all together. Keiski said she often sees students study for the test for six months in some cases. Many students choose to enter into study classes that can start at $799, in the case of Kaplan study courses.

“It's a standardized test, and I don't think it's the best measure,” Wilson said, “so I think that it'd be a great opportunity for students to not have to take something that's a bit arbitrary.”

Wilson also said as a legal studies minor at UO, she was able to meet law professors and learn some of their teaching styles. For Wilson, this helped her prepare for life as a law student, even though she said these courses designed to be similar to real law courses were “not quite as difficult.”

The legal studies minor is not the same as being in a pre-law major track, but it helps UO undergraduates to gain exposure to the line of study. 

“The undergrad legal studies program is amazing,” Keiski said. “The University of Oregon does not have a pre-law major, which I think is fairly rare for major research institutions, and this creates a really special opportunity for students.”

Keiski said that the minor is also a great way for undergraduate students to bolster their applications to UO or any other school. Having a recommendation from a professor that Keiski knows and works with can make a big impact on a student’s application when she is considering them for admission.

The law school and Clark Honors College have a program that has students spend three years in undergraduate, after which they’re placed into the law school for three years. There are four students currently pursuing this program. 

This program comes at a time when other graduate programs at UO are looking to develop similar pipelines with the recent proposal of accelerated masters programs.