Senate shuts book on bar exam expansion

UNDER THE DOME

05/29/2003

From Staff and Wire Reports

The Senate quashed a measure Wednesday that would have opened the state bar exam to graduates of unaccredited law schools including a correspondence law school that admits high school graduates with no college hours or degree.

The House had passed such a proposal, tacked onto the bill reauthorizing the State Bar of Texas, after it was pushed by Rep. Charlie Howard, R-Sugar Land.

Mr. Howard acknowledged the bill would have benefited his daughter and other graduates of Oak Brook College of Law, a Christian "distance learning" law school in Fresno, Calif.

Oak Brook, which requires no undergraduate degree for admission, offers courses by mail and the Internet. California is the only state that recognizes Oak Brook graduates.

Other states, including Texas, allow California lawyers from unaccredited schools to take the Texas bar, but only after they have practiced law for five years. The measure the Senate rejected Wednesday would have eliminated that five-year practice requirement.

The House measure was removed from the bill in a Senate committee. On a voice vote, senators turned down an amendment by Sen. Jeff Wentworth, R-San Antonio, to revive the provision.

What's next: The bill returns to the House for consideration of Senate changes.