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Raising the Bar on Bar Exams in Bahrain

April 2010

Bar exams are indispensable tools for determining if a candidate is qualified to practice law, and mandatory bar exams can help raise the quality of available legal services. The ABA Rule of Law Initiative’s (ABA ROLI’s) work in Bahrain has included collaborations with the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) and theJudicial and Legal Studies Institute (JLSI) to support development of thecountry’s first bar exam. Currently, ABA ROLI assists with the development and implementation of a mandatory bar exam. Once implemented, this will raise there quirements for admission to the Bahraini bar, which currently demands only alaw degree and a two-year internship.

To support this effort, ABA ROLI sponsored an advisory visit to Bahrain by Marcia Mengel, a former director of bar admissions for Ohio. Mengel’s presentation to the government’s Judicial Reform Working Group focused on bestpractices. Topics included recommendations for establishing an administrative system, testing methods, psychometric considerations, exam components, grading and test security. She also provided detailed reference materials to theworking group. With pending parliamentary legislation that would make the bar exam mandatory, the working group is moving forward in its exam design process.

Mengel also discussed bar exam administration with a number of key individuals, including the minister of justice, the director of the JLSI andthe president of the Bahrain Bar Society. Based on her consultations, she wrote a report outlining how best to move forward.

To learn more about the ABA Rule of Law Initiative’s work in Bahrain, contact