California teen becomes youngest to pass the state bar exam

A Central Valley 17-year-old became the youngest person ever to pass the California Bar Examination, according to research by the Tulare County District Attorney's Office, which called the accomplishment "a legal history making moment."

District attorney officials said law clerk Peter Park passed the rigorous exam on his first attempt. He took the test back in July and received his results on Nov. 9.

On Dec. 5, he was sworn-in as one of California's youngest practicing attorneys, the DA's office said. 

In an email, the state bar told KTVU that while its records cannot confirm whether Park is indeed the youngest person to pass the bar since its inception in 1927, the teen's achievement is quite impressive.

"Passing the California Bar exam is a major accomplishment at any age, and for someone as young as Mr. Park, it is quite an extraordinary feat and one worth celebrating," State Bar of California Executive Director Leah Wilson said, adding, "The State Bar of California wishes him the best of luck as he embarks on a career in the legal field."

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Park, who emigrated from Korea with his family at the age of 4, grew up in Southern California. 

He fast-tracked his journey to earning his law degree at a young age. He was 13 when he began high school at Oxford Academy in Cypress, in Orange County. 


According to the DA’s office, while in high school, the teen concurrently enrolled in a four-year online Juris Doctor (JD) program at Northwestern California University School of Law in Sacramento, taking advantage of a state bar rule allowing students to apply to law school through the completion of the College Level Examination Program (CLEP).

It took him two years to complete high school, graduating in 2021 and then he focused his studies on law school, earning his JD earlier this year. 

Then, in August, he took a position as a law clerk with Tulare County’s DA’s office.

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It was an arduous road, but Park said it was well worth it. 

"It required discipline and strategy to pass the Bar, and I made it in the end," the district attorney’s office quoted the teen as saying in a news release. 

The young attorney planned to work as a prosecutor. 

"I am driven by a moral obligation to uphold liberty, equality, and justice in society," he said, adding, "I admire how prosecutors keep our community safe and bring closure to victims."

The teen also said that he hoped his journey demonstrated to others that practicing law can be achieved through other non-traditional avenues. 

"I am extremely blessed to have discovered this path," Park said, "and my hope is that more people will realize that alternative paths exist to becoming an attorney."