First Bar Examination

The final examination was used to ensure candidates possessed the minimum competence necessary to practice law. Prior to the creation of the Board of Law Examiners, there were no statewide standards in place for ensuring the competency of attorneys in Pennsylvania. In fact, in some counties, if a candidate possessed a law school diploma, or had political influence, he may not have been required to complete the final examination.

Under the rules established by the State Board of Law Examiners, once a candidate completed his study of law, he was then required to comply with the requirements of Rule V before permission was granted to take the final examination. The final examination was conducted over two days, and consisted of 60 short essay questions, which tested a candidate's knowledge of subject areas similar to those used today.

Examination questions were drafted and graded by members of the State Board of Law Examiners and Assistant Examiners. The first final examination was administered to 97 applicants on June 23 and 24, 1903. Of those 97, 78 were successful, and 19 were unsuccessful.

Here is a sample of the 1903 Bar Examination