Login | June 19, 2018

New relaxed requirements for Ohio bar exam

James W. Slater
Law talk

Published: August 15, 2014

Under a new rule approved by the Ohio Supreme Court, persons who have completed three years of undergraduate school and obtain their law school degree in three years will be eligible to sit for the Ohio bar exam as long as they have fulfilled other exam requirements and are at least 21 years old.

The new rule which comprises amendments added to Rule 1 of the Supreme Court Rules for the Government of the Bar of Ohio, took effect July 1, 2014, but at this point there are no law schools in Ohio that offer the “3 + 3” program. It is up to each school to develop a program. The University of Akron is looking at developing one, possibly through its political science department. In this type of program, certain class credit can count for both an undergraduate degree and also toward a law degree.

Adoption of the program, proposed by deans of Ohio law schools, made Ohio the 50th state to accept the “3 + 3” model. Previously an Ohio bar candidate had to have “earned a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university” before entering law school. Now a student can enter law school without completing an undergraduate degree.

Some states do not require any law school

Although it is rare for students to pursue this course of study, there are seven states that allow a law candidate to “read the law” for a certain number of years before taking the bar exam. Some of these states require study in a law office and some time in law school—generally one year. The states of Washington, California, Virginia and Wyoming have less stringent “read the law” requirements than Maine, New York or Vermont, but all allow a nontraditional path.

Despite an increasing number of high school students entering college with Advanced Placement (AP) or post-secondary credits, Ohio students will not be permitted under the “3 + 3” program to go from high school to law school.

Although many educators see “3 + 3” as something positive for students, especially those who know early on that they want to go to law school, others say the law school deans are supporting the idea because enrollment in law schools is declining. Some are concerned that requiring fewer years of education to enter law school will result in less educated law graduates.