High Bar requirement a disincentive to stay in Maine

The message from Sen. Susan Collins and Gov. Janet Mills in their recent college commencement speeches was clear: We need our talented young people to stay here in Maine. As a career educator in Calais, I couldn’t agree more. For more than 30 years, I have watched our most talented young people either leave our part of the state for greener pastures to the south or leave the state completely.

Unfortunately, the well-spoken words from our political leaders may not be enough to convince our best and brightest to stay here in Maine.

I am proud to be a “Maineiac” and raised my two sons to embrace the awesomeness that Maine provides, if you are willing to look for it, work for it and enjoy the best parts of it. But will they stay in Maine?

That is my wish, and that is their wish. My oldest son, who has a law degree, wants to live here in Calais and practice law right here in Washington County. But he can’t, because Maine’s requirement for passing the Bar Exam is one of the highest in the country.

My son’s score was high enough to allow him to practice in every state following the Uniform Bar Exam system except Maine and three other states. Maine’s passing grade for the Bar Exam is 276. My son’s latest attempt resulted in a 275.4.

So, while many of his fellow test-takers pack up to leave Maine to practice in those states with lower requirements, the choice for my son is clear. If you want to practice law, leave the state — because of one-tenth of a point.

Chris Johnson


The needs and will of the people

I am remembering James Comey’s statements that President Donald Trump tried to get him to pledge loyalty to him. In the continuing, hard to believe, blind loyalty shown by the people most closely connected to Trump, I am moved to ask: Have those who are on his staff and still serving their appointments made commitments of loyalty to the president? Is it a requirement of their job? And if they have, shouldn’t this be known? And should there not be a law prohibiting such pledges? Those elected are supposed to represent the needs and will of the people, not the needs and wills of those elected.

Priscilla Smith


Let asylum seekers work sooner

Bruce Poliquin recently posted on Facebook regarding the arrival of asylum seekers in Portland. His original post was quite inflammatory and created a lot of less-than-civil discourse from those who follow him.

In response to one comment that advocated “putting the seekers to work since Maine has a labor shortage,” Poliquin responded that putting them to work right away isn’t possible because of the 180-day processing requirement.

Assuming that is true, my question for all of you, is there a way to reduce the long timeframe? As we know, this would be a great benefit to addressing Maine’s labor shortage. Hopefully it might even reign in the wrath of those who feel that these “illegal immigrants” (as they are frequently referred to. Unfortunately, Poliquin does not correct the misunderstanding even though several of us have requested that he do so).

I urge Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King and Rep. Chellie Pingree pay attention to this matter.

Pam Maus

Owls Head