Graffiti Art and Related Legal Issues in Washington

By: Yixin Bao

Graffiti is a type of visual communication that is written or painted on a kind of surface. This usually happens without permission from the surface’s property owner, with the resulting work often in public view. Some understand graffiti as antisocial behavior which is used to gain public attention, especially when graffiti is created by a member of a street gang. Others, however, treat graffiti as a type of expression and an art form.

Starting in the 1960s, graffiti became a popular form of art in the United States. In New York, young people started to use spray paint to leave their signatures on public spaces, mostly on city walls and subway cars. For example, artists like TAKI 183, became famous for his frequent illegal tagging and was eventually known to be one of the “forefathers” of graffiti. While TAKI 183, whose real name is Demetrius, never considered himself an artist, he left his name and street number on hundreds of surfaces in New York City, making him a part of the history of American graffiti. Demetrius said: “I think a lot of what the graffiti movement spawned, early on, was just vandalism and defacement. But later on, real artists started doing it, and it did become a true art form.” As the art form grew, graffiti became more than lettering. Accompanying the text, abstract and complex compositions were incorporated, with additional color and lines. Such change also brought commercial success for these artists. 

Some graffiti artworks might be qualified to be protected as a visual work under copyright law. Copyright is a form of intellectual property that protects original works of authorship. The work must be original and fixed in a tangible medium of expression. The fundamental exclusive rights that a copyright owner has are the right to reproduce, the right to prepare derivative works, the right to distribute, and the right to public display/performance. Similar to other art forms, if a graffiti work complies with these requirements, it can be protected under copyright. For example, Keith Haring’s famous street art in the New York City subway, using white chalk to draw dancing people on the black advertising panels, is protected under copyright law, because they are original and fixed on subway panels.  However, not all graffiti qualifies for copyright protection. Some graffiti is too simple to be considered as artwork to be protected. These include for example, short phrases and words. 

Locally, graffiti is generally illegal if it is created without permission from the surface’s owner. According to Washington state law, graffiti is a gross misdemeanor. Under RCW 9A.48.090, a person is guilty of malicious mischief in the third degree if he or she writes, paints, or draws a mark of any type on any public or private building unless he or she has gained the permission of the owner of the property. 

Controversies surrounding graffiti art have persisted.  In Washington state, graffiti is everywhere on bridges, walls, and traffic signs. From 2015 to 2017, state transportation officials spent more than $600,000 to remove graffiti and this number raised to $1.4 million between 2019 and 2021. However, when the city officials quietly painted over a tunnel full of graffiti in Washington Heights, some residents accused them of “whitewashing” the culture and the history of the neighborhood. The comments show how the community has different stances on the issue of graffiti. In 2021, individuals brought a lawsuit challenging Seattle’s graffiti ordinance. Four people were arrested and jailed for writing easy-to-clean political messages on temporary barricades. They filed a complaint alleging that “SPD only select[s] to enforce the ordinance when views are expressed that do not align with their own.” None of the four, however, were ever prosecuted for the graffiti.

Graffiti is a form of artistic expression and brings positive outcomes to the community. At the same time,  graffiti without consent is also illegal and considered to be vandalism. Prior to creating their artwork, graffiti artists should seek the property owner’s consent, as a standard practice. Additionally, if the work meets the qualifications, including originality and fixation requirements,  it should be safeguarded under copyright law as a form of artistic expression. Given the ambiguity between graffiti and artistic expression, graffiti artists should always exercise caution and be mindful of the context and legality of their artistic endeavors in public spaces. 

Art mishaps: Who Foots the Bill?

By: Nicholas Lipperd

One misstep at a museum social hour was all it took to destroy a $42,000 sculpture. Seconds after a museum patron accidentally bumped the pedestal, Jeff Koon’s porcelain “balloon dog” sculpture lay shattered on the floor. As onlookers watched in horror, the person who bumped it surely had one thing racing through her mind: will I have to pay for this? It was surely the same question asked by the parents of the twelve-year-old who tripped and accidentally put a fist through a $1.5 million painting in Taiwan. Exploring both practical effects and legal theories that apply to mishaps with museum patrons, this article comes to the conclusion that there is only minimal worry.

The majority of mishaps involving art end up being covered by insurance, but relying on insurance is never a straightforward and easy process. As damaged art claims are on the rise, the incentive for insurance companies to make claims a straightforward process continually shrinks. Further concerns arise if there are terms in the insurance contract that disclaim damage from patrons in certain instances. What if the museum is displaying the art for sale on consignment and does not obtain insurance, thinking to save a few pennies? This is certainly an option for museums, though states like Washington impose strict liability for damage on museums when selling art on consignment. While insurance removes most of the worry over museum mishaps, it is not a foolproof solution. 

Even if museums lack the safety net of insurance coverage, patrons likely need not fear the price tag of accidental damage. Any claims based on such damage will be governed by state tort law because museum patrons have traditionally been considered invitees. While many states have moved past such rigid categories in tort law with respect to third-party harm on public land, the categorization of invitee is still important to understand why liability will not likely fall on a museum patron.

A public invitee is a person who is invited to the property for a purpose for which the land is held open to the public. A museum thus owes a duty of care to museum patrons as invitees, and the museum is liable for injuries and damages caused by the condition of the museum. In layperson terms, this means if a museum failed to properly secure a priceless sculpture and a patron bumped it, it is the museum and not the patron who is responsible. This protection may not hold when the patron specifically recognizes a danger and fails to adhere to it, is trespassing, acts intentionally, or is otherwise acting negligently. The responsible museum-goer need not worry. Yet, these exceptions to invitee protection call in to question a few problematic situations.

If a patron’s actions in damaging art are truly intentional, there are not many defenses available. This is not particularly controversial; if one intends to destroy art, one should be held responsible. But when the action is intentional but the consequences are not, what then? The outcome may be uncertain. In one comical example, a museum janitor thought a contemporary art exhibit was simply trash and consequently “cleaned up” the exhibit by throwing it away. Luckily, the actions were viewed as an honest mistake by the museum, and she was not responsible for the cost. 

If museums have interactive exhibits, the patron is acting intentionally when interacting with the exhibit. When such exhibits invite the patron to physically engage with the art past merely pushing a button, greater risk of damage is inherent. Common sense would dictate that a patron who, hypothetically, breaks a lever on a piece of interactive art after being invited to push said lever, has not intentionally broken anything, despite the act being intentional. One legal theory that protects the patron here parallels the personal injury defense of assumption of risk. The museum is responsible for setting up any interactive exhibit and understands that the risk of damage is increased when inviting patrons to interact. While this protects patrons who act reasonably in such exhibits, a negligence standard may still be applied to their actions in fact-specific circumstances. 

Negligence may pose the most risk to museum patrons just as it does in many other social settings: when alcohol is present. It is increasingly common for museums to host special mixers or functions where alcohol is provided or available. “I just had one too many” is not a valid excuse in any setting and especially not at a museum. A patron’s actions will be judged as either responsible or negligent when compared to a sober adult in the same setting. While commercial hosts can be held liable for damages caused by the intoxication of the persons they serve if those persons are apparently under the influence of alcohol, this is fact-specific and not a protection to be relied upon when the liability for tens of thousands of dollars of damage may be called into question.

So if you plan on enjoying a nice afternoon at the museum, you shouldn’t spend much time worrying about covering the exorbitant cost of an unfortunate mishap. However, should you consider visiting a new interactive exhibit at your local glass museum after a few happy hour drinks, more caution is certainly warranted.

Liability, Authorship, & Symmetrial Causation in AI-Generated Outputs

By: Jacob Alhadeff

Copyright has insufficiently analyzed causation for both authorship and liability because, until now, causation was relatively obvious. If someone creates a painting, then they caused the work and receive authorial rights. If it turned out that the painting was of Mickey Mouse, then that painter may be liable for an infringing reproduction. However, recent technological advances have challenged the element of causation in both authorship and infringement. In response, recent law and scholarship have begun to address these issues. However, because they have addressed causation in isolation, current analysis has provided logically or ethically insufficient answers. In other words, authorial causation has ignored potential implications for an entity’s infringement liability, and vice-versa. Regardless of how the law responds, generative AI will require copyright to explore and enumerate the previously assumed causation analyses for both infringement and authorship. This blog explores how generative AI exposes the logical inconsistencies that result from analyzing authorial causation without analyzing causation for infringing reproductions.

Generative AI largely requires the following process: (1) an original artist creates works, (2) a developer trains an AI model on these works, and (3) an end-user prompts the AI to generate an output, such as “a mouse in the style of Walt Disney.” This generative AI process presents a novel challenge for copyright in determining who or what caused the output because generative AI challenges conventional notions of creation.

Causing Infringement

Andersen et al. recently filed a complaint against Stability AI, one of the most popular text-to-art foundation models. This class action alleges that Stability AI is directly liable for infringing that result from end-user prompted generations. However, in a recent decision more closely analyzing causation and volition in infringement, the Ninth Circuit found that “direct liability must be premised on conduct that can reasonably be described as the direct cause of infringement.” Stability AI should not be found directly liable for infringing these artists’ copyright, in part because Stability AI cannot reasonably be said to be the direct cause of infringement. Such a finding would be similar to holding Google liable for reproducing images of Mickey Mouse on people’s computer screens when they search for “Mickey Mouse.”  

This lawsuit is particularly relevant since end-users have prompted thousands of generations that include the phrase “Mickey Mouse” and many appear substantially similar to Disney’s Mickey. If thousands of end-users have intentionally prompted the AI to generate Mickey Mouse, then what volitional conduct can most reasonably be described as the direct cause of infringement? It is clearly the end-user. However, what if the end-user simply prompted “a cartoon mouse” and the AI generated an infringing image of Mickey? Here, the end-user may not have intended to generate Mickey and reasonable notions of fairness may not find the end-user as the most direct cause of infringement. However, copyright is a strict liability tort, meaning that liability attaches regardless of a reproducer’s intent. Therefore, unless copyright applies an intentional or a negligence theory for direct liability, which it should not, then whomever or whatever is liable for infringing outputs shall be liable for both of the infringing outputs— “Mickey Mouse” and “a cartoon mouse.” Such an outcome not only feels deeply unfair, but it is unreasonable to say that the end-user is the direct cause of infringement when prompting “a cartoon mouse,” and vice versa. 

Cases called to answer similar questions have recently grappled with these same issues of volition and causation. Generally, courts have been hesitant to find companies liable for actions that are not reasonably deemed volitional conduct causing infringement. The court in Cartoon Network, for example, found that “volition is an important element of direct liability.” In the Loopnet case, the court found that “the Copyright Act… requires conduct by a person who causes in some meaningful way an infringement.” In this way, the law has so far mirrored our prior intuitions of fairness. Legal scholarship has noted that when copyright law has grappled with novel technology, it has found that causation in infringement requires volition that “can never be satisfied by machines.” This reasoning, as applied  to generative AI, may mean that an AI company should not normally be directly liable for outputs that infringe the reproduction right. 

Causing Authorship

This causation analysis has also begun for authorship rights. One copyright scholar compellingly argues that copyright law should explicitly enumerate a causal analysis for granting authorship rights. Such an analysis would follow tort law’s two step causation analysis including: (1) creation in fact and (2) legal creation. Aviv Gaon surveys authorial options in The Future of Copyright in the Age of AI, writing that there are those that favor assigning authorship to the end-user prompter, the AI developer, finding outputs joint works, or even attributing authorship to the AI itself. The simplest legal option would be to treat AI like a tool and grant authorship to the end-user. This is exactly how the law responded when photography challenged conventional notions of creativity and authorship. Opponents of finding photographers as authors argued that photography was “merely mechanical, with no place for… originality.” The Supreme Court in Burrow Giles instead found that the photographer “gives effect to the idea” and is the work’s “mastermind” deserving of copyright. 

However, treating AI like a conventional tool is an inconsistent oversimplification in the current context. Not only is it often less analogous to say that an end-user prompter is the ‘mastermind’ of the output, but AI presents a more attenuated causation analysis that should not result in  a copyright for all AI-generations. As an extreme example, recent AIs are employing other AIs as replicable agents. In these circumstances, a single prompt could catalyze one AI to automatically employ other AI agents to generate numerous potentially creative or infringing outputs. Here, the most closely linked human input would be a prompt that could not be said to have masterminded or caused the many resultant expressive outputs. Under Balganesh’s framework, no human could reasonably be found as the factual or legal cause of the output. Such use-cases will further challenge the law’s notions of foreseeability as reasonable causation becomes increasingly attenuated.

Importantly, in the face of this ongoing debate and scholarship, the Copyright Office recently made their determination on authorship for AI-generated works. In February 2023, the US Copyright Office amended its decision regarding Kristina Kashtanova’s comic book, Zarya of the Dawn, stating that the exclusively AI-generated content is not copyrightable.  Ms. Kashtanova created her comic book using Midjourney, a text-to-art AI, to generate much of the visual art involved. The copyright office stated that her “selection, coordination, and arrangement” of AI-generated images are copyrightable, but not the images themselves. The Office’s decision means that all exclusively AI-generated content, like natural phenomena, is not the type of content copyright protects and is freely accessible to all. The Office’s decision was based on their interpretation that “it was Midjourney—not Kashtanova—that originated the ‘traditional elements of authorship.’” The Office’s decision is appropriate policy, but when analyzed in conjunction with the current law on causation in infringement, it is inconsistent and may result in an asymmetrical allocation of the rights and duties that attend creation. Relevantly, how can a machine that is incapable of volition originate art? This is one of many ontological paradoxes that AI will present to law. 

Symmetrically Analyzing Causation

Two things are apparent. First, there is a beautiful symmetry in AI-generations being uncopyrightable, and the machines originating such works symmetrically do not have sufficient volition to infringe. If such a system persists, then copyright law may not play a major role in generative AI, though this is doubtful. Second, such inconsistencies inevitably result from causation analyses for mechanically analogous actions that only analyze one of infringement or authorship. Instead, I propose that copyright law symmetrically analyze mechanically analogous causation for both authorship and infringement of the reproduction right. Since copyright law has only recently begun analyzing causation, it is reasonable, and potentially desirable, that the law does not require this symmetrical causation. After all, the elements of authorship and infringement are usefully different. However, what has been consistent throughout copyright is that when an author creates, they risk both an infringing reproduction and the benefits of authorship rights. In other words, by painting, a painter may create a valuable copyrightable work, but they also may paint an infringing reproduction of Mickey Mouse. Asymmetrical causation for AI art could be analogized to the painter receiving authorship rights while the company that made the paintbrush being liable for the painter’s infringing reproductions. Such a result would not incentivize a painter to avoid infringement, and thereby improperly balance the risks and benefits of creation. Ultimately, if the law decides either the end-user or the AI company is the author, then the other entity should not be asymmetrically liable for infringing reproductions. Otherwise, the result will be ethically and logically inconsistent. After all, as Antony Honore wrote in Responsibility and Fault, in our outcome-based society and legal system, we receive potential benefit from and are responsible for the harms reasonably connected to our actions.

Dancing Around the Issue: Washington Lawmakers Grapple with State Regulation of Adult Entertainment

By: Matt Williamson

When people think of Washington many things quickly come to mind: Apples, Planes, Rain, Grunge, Twilight; all understandable. Restrictive alcohol laws though? Not so much. 

Despite this, Washington maintains a near-total prohibition on any alcohol service in adult entertainment clubs–making it one of only a few states to do so

This year, a group of exotic entertainment advocates, working with state lawmakers, aimed to change this. The group helped introduce, and has lobbied for, the passage of SB 5614: A bill designed to reverse restrictions on alcohol service and allow strip clubs to apply for liquor licenses

While this might seem like a fairly humble goal, the policy change would represent a massive shift in the landscape of adult entertainment in Washington. Alongside the reversal of the alcohol restrictions, SB 5614 also contains a series of potentially hugely impactful provisions aimed at providing a safer, fairer, and more stable working environment for exotic dancers across the state. 

Why Alcohol Matters

To understand why the seemingly small change could mean so much to Washington-based dancers, one first has to understand the secondary effects this restriction creates.

Washington’s restriction on alcohol service in strip clubs stems not from statute, but administrative rules. The restrictions, enshrined in WAC 314-11-050, were established by the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board, and prohibit the sale of alcohol in any establishment where certain types of activity take place. Because the restricting activities include stripping, a fairly essential element of strip clubs, the rule establishes a de facto exclusion on alcohol sales in strip clubs. 

What this creates is a major economic problem that club owners and management must combat. Without alcohol sales, these clubs are cut off from a huge source of revenue, and must turn to other means to extract money from patrons and staff alike

This is the landscape that has produced one of the most hated aspects of exotic dancing in Washington: Dancer fees. Rather than paying them, many clubs actually charge dancers a fee to perform, arguing that they will earn money through tips, and that the fees are required to be able to maintain the club’s business viability. Naturally, this contributes to the financial instability of the profession, as dancers often encounter shifts where they make little to no money, and are nonetheless forced to pay for the opportunity. 

It’s not just the economics either. Many dancers argue that the lack of alcohol sales in Washington clubs robs these establishments of the ability to create a social or entertaining environment and restricts them to a customer base exclusively seeking a sexual experience. Dancers have noted that Washington clubs have a distinctly sexually-focused vibe, as opposed to Oregon clubs, where alcohol is served and the environment tends to be more akin to a bar. 

Moreover, the added revenue from alcohol sales presents advocates with an opportunity to invest in protections for exotic dancers that have long been missing from the industry. SB 5416 includes provisions requiring better security in clubs, mandatory training for dancers including on financial security planning, and prohibitions on predatory club fees and penalties. 

Legislative Struggles

Despite significant support from groups like Strippers are Workers, which has championed the bill, it sadly seems as though SB 5416 is unlikely to pass the state legislature this year. 

However, advocates can take at least some solace in the nature of its demise: SB 5416 has not failed to receive enough votes at any of the crucial steps in the legislative process, but instead ran afoul of the greatest obstacle any piece of Washington legislation ever faces–the absurdly compacted legislative schedule.

Washington has a part-time legislature, which means that Legislators in the House and Senate only meet for between 3 and 4 months a year. When considered in light of the thousands of bills that are introduced every year, and the numerous procedural steps each must traverse, the massive scale of the scheduling problem quickly comes into focus. 

When SB 5416 passed the Senate in early March, it seemed to have serious momentum, receiving significant bipartisan support in that chamber and quickly being placed on the agenda of the House Committee on Labor & Workplace Standards. 

But sadly, things quickly seemed to fizzle as some notes of opposition arose in the House, and the crush of bills began to overwhelm policy committees. Now, as the cutoff for bills advancing out of House policy committees has passed, and the bill remains with the Regulated Substances & Gaming Committee, it seems all but doomed.


This seems an unworthy end for a bill that seeks to strike at the heart of a serious issue for thousands of working Washingtonians. Exotic dancers deserve so much better than the often predatory working environments they encounter in Washington clubs, and it is clear that repealing our state’s misguided alcohol restrictions could go a long way towards addressing the underlying causes of these conditions and providing dancers with the support and protection they need. Hopefully, advocates and their allies will get another shot at passing this legislation soon, and next time legislators will find the time to seriously consider and pass it.

Hidden Hurdles: The True Cost of the Bar Exam

By: Kayleigh McNiel

For every law student, the bar exam is the pinnacle of academic challenges. As the final hurdle at the end of a grueling 3-year obstacle course, hidden costs throughout the process of preparing for the exam and applying for admission to the bar present additional barriers. The impact of which disproportionately affects first-generation and BIPOC law students who are less likely to have the financial resources to purchase commercial bar prep courses or study full-time without having to work. Racial disparities in first-time bar passage rates have led some to argue that the bar exam is a test of students’ resources, not their actual skill or competence on legal issues. 

Discriminatory Design

The “key ingredient” to passing the bar is having the ability to dedicate an extensive amount of time to prepare for it. This is according to researchers at AccessLex Institute who examined factors such as bar preparation practices, financial resources, household income, and family support for more than 5,000 first-time test-takers of the Uniform Bar Exam (UBE) between July 2016 and February 2018. In fact, candidates who studied the recommended 40 hours per week for at least two months before the exam were significantly more likely to pass. Unsurprisingly, success rates were substantially higher for candidates with higher household incomes, those who received financial support from their family during law school, and those who purchased commercial bar prep courses.

These factors contribute to the stark racial disparities in bar exam passage rates. According to the American Bar Association, last year just 57% of Black candidates, 60% of Native American candidates, 69% of Latinx candidates, and 75% of Asian candidates passed the bar exam on their first try. While 83% of White candidates succeeded in doing so. The racial gap in passing rates has continued to grow over the last three years, likely due to the greater economic losses communities of color experienced due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Structure of the Exam(s)

To become licensed to practice law in Washington State, candidates must pass three separate exams: (1) the Uniform Bar Exam (UBE) which is a two-day exam consisting of three parts, (2) the Multistage Professional Responsibility Exam (MPRE), a two-hour exam that can be taken within three years of the UBE, and (3) the Washington Law Component (WLC), a four-hour multiple choice test which can be taken within three years of the UBE.

So How Much Does It Really Cost? Hidden fees and surprise price tags 

Understanding the cost of taking the bar exam (in Washington State) is key to setting yourself up for success. Unfortunately, this information is not always readily available as there are additional fees and costs associated with each part of the application and testing process. The individual circumstances of each applicant further dictate how much they are charged.

Registration fees: $585 – $885.

Most first-time test takers will pay $585 to register for the UBE in Washington State. However, a hefty $300 late fee attaches to all applicants who register after the deadline. So plan ahead! Additionally, those who pay with a debit or credit card will pay an additional 2.5% transaction fee bringing the total to $599.625, or $907.13 with a late fee. While there is no fee to pay by electronic funds transfer or check, these methods can take an additional 7 days to process your payment. 

Bar Review Course: $1,695 – $4,199. 

While not required, commercial bar prep programs have become essential to passing the exam and can cost thousands of dollars. Companies offer a variety of resources, study aids, and courses. While the most well-known bar prep review providers offer discounts and some scholarships, most students will pay close to these base prices: $1,695-$2,695 (Themis), $1,999-$4,199 (Babri), or $1,699-$3,999 (Kaplan).

Exam Software: $120. 

To be able to use a laptop during the essay portion of the exam, candidates are required to download ILG Exam360 software. Candidates are responsible for providing their own laptops and are not given any additional time on the exam if they suffer from technical difficulties. 

Laptop Fee: $100. 

While it appears that Washington State no longer charges a separate laptop fee since the pandemic, most states do.

Travel, Lodging and food: $340 – $500

A hidden cost that most people fail to consider is the cost of travel, lodging, and food for those who have to travel to the testing center. Washington State alternates between testing centers in Seattle and Yakima. For JD candidates living in Seattle, this year they must make the 2.5 hour drive (or 3.5 hour bus ride) to the Yakima Convention Center and fork out the cost of a hotel for the two-day exam. Gas, travel time, food, and shelter for this trip averages several hundred of dollars. Some hotels near the testing center offer booking discounts for those taking the bar exam.

Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam (MPRE): $150. 

This separate, two-hour multiple-choice exam can be taken anytime within three years of passing the UBE. The MPRE is required in all but two States. 

Character and Fitness Investigation Fee: $120 – $450. 

Another mandatory, hidden charge is the “investigation fee” paid to the National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE) to conduct background checks into candidates’ character and moral fitness. ALL applicants in Washington are required to pay this investigation fee but are not charged when they submit their initial application. Only after the WSBA has reviewed their application will they receive payment and authorization forms from the NCBE. These fees vary depending on the level of investigation required. 

As part of this investigation, candidates may have to provide additional third-party documents related to criminal or employment records. Most states charge between $50-$90 for certified criminal records and additional fees of up to $3.50 per page of court filings.

Lost wages during bar prep: $9,833 – $16,666

The American Bar Association recommends studying 40 hours a week for a minimum of 8-10 weeks to adequately prepare for the Bar exam. Most applicants are unable to work during this time, which means they will miss out on at least two months of income. This estimate is based on the average annual income of first-year University of Washington Law School graduates which varies between $59,000 and $100,000 annually depending on their field of practice. 

Additionally, applicants continue to incur cost of living expenses while preparing for the bar exam — rent, food, gas for your car, phone bill, and additional financial obligations.

Law School tuition: $125,064 – $160,362

Undeniably, the largest expense of bar exam preparation is three years of law school tuition. While Washington State is one of the few jurisdictions that does not require a law degree to take the bar exam and practice law, the vast majority of applicants do. While the cost of law school tuition for each student varies substantially based on which law school they attend and their scholarship grants, most students at UW Law school pay $41,688 annually for in-state tuition and $53,454 if they are out-of-state. 

How to Pay for the Bar? The problem with bar exam loans

Most law students survive on federal student loans throughout their education but do not qualify for student loans while studying for the bar because they are no longer enrolled as students. Bar exam loans are another option but have serious drawbacks. So much so, that Forbes even cautions applicants to consider cheaper alternatives. 

Bar exam loans are personal loans specifically to cover expenses during bar exam preparation. While many lenders offer bar exam loans with low-interest rates, JD candidates without any income often need a cosigner to qualify.  Additionally, lenders do not provide an interest rate estimate before completing a full application, thereby limiting JD candidates’ ability to shop around.

In short, the exorbitant cost of becoming a lawyer continues to be the biggest barrier to advancing diversity in the legal profession. Scholarships are available to offset the cost of preparing for the bar, but much more needs to be done by Universities to support JD candidates in achieving success.

Bar exam scholarship opportunities:

Bar review scholarships

  • Women of WSAJ Bar Preparation Scholarship – provides women law school graduates and APR 6 law clerk graduates with scholarships to help defray the costs of bar review courses.
  • Barbri Public Interest Scholarship – substantially lowers the cost of a bar prep course for applicants committed to be employed in the public interest sector with an annual salary less than $75,000.