Wednesday, April 19, 2006

The Bar Exam Alternative

The Concord Monitor reports on Pierce Law's plan to offer students a method of gaining admission to the New Hampshire Bar without taking the exam. Instead, those students who qualify for the program spend their second and third years taking some required courses, participating in clinics and externships, and having a mentor helping them along the way. The student then presents and defends his or her "portfolio," and, if successful, is admitted.

An excellent idea to be sure, and one I wish I could have taken advantage of when I was at Pierce. I went down a very similar path anyway, interning and externing and participating in clinics, eschewing the standard route toward gainful employment. Still had to take the Bar exam, of course. This program is surely far more fulfilling and useful than endless cramming and pouring over thousands of practice multistate questions.

I expect it will take some time to determine just how successful this program is, and I wonder how that success will be measured. We'd have to look at not simply how many have achieved bar admission through the program, but where they end up and how effective they are as attorneys, and somehow compare that to those who take the Bar exam. And it will be interesting to see if employers in New Hampshire, Vermont and Maine get on board and hire these grads.

Whatever the result, Pierce Law should be commended for innovating in a field that seems mired in the practices of the past.

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