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A 17-year-old law clerk became the youngest to pass the California Bar Exam

By Ashley R. Williams, CNN

(CNN) — At just 17 years old, a California law clerk has become the youngest person ever to pass the state’s rigorous bar exam, achieving the history-making feat on his first attempt.

Peter Park, who took the California Bar Exam in July and received his results in November, has been on the fast track to a legal career since he was 13.

In 2019, he simultaneously enrolled in high school in Cypress, California, and a four-year Juris Doctor program at Northwestern California University School of Law, according to the Tulare County District Attorney’s Office.

A California state bar rule allows students to apply to law school through completing the College Board’s College-Level Examination Program, the district attorney’s office said in a news release.

“I aspire to become a prosecutor because I am driven by a moral obligation to uphold liberty, equality and justice in society,” Park said in the release. “I admire how prosecutors keep our community safe and bring closure to victims.”

Park, who turned 18 last month, graduated from high school in 2021 after taking the California High School Proficiency Exam, and from there, he continued his law school career and graduated in 2023, according to the release.

He became a law clerk with the Tulare County District Attorney in August, and was sworn in on December 5 as a practicing California attorney.

“We are remarkably proud of Mr. Park’s accomplishment, that cannot be overstated. We are excited for that drive and determination to be used on behalf of victims and their families here in Tulare County,” the county’s District Attorney Tim Ward said in a statement.

The State Bar of California also congratulated Park’s accomplishment on social media, wishing him “tremendous success as he embarks on his promising legal career.”

Park now works as a deputy district attorney and is undergoing new prosecutor training at the Tulare County District Attorney’s Office, according to his LinkedIn page.

Park’s passing of the bar exam places him among over 196,300 active attorneys in the Golden State, according to the State Bar of California. Its demographics show the average age of attorneys admitted to the state bar was 31 in 2022.

Of 7,555 people who took the California bar exam in July, the overall pass rate was 52% – the lowest bar exam pass rate of the 50 states and Washington, DC that month, according to the National Conference of Bar Examiners.

Park said his achievement was not easy, but worth it.

“It required discipline and strategy to pass the Bar, and I made it in the end,” Park said.

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

He will formally enter his new role in early January “pending a few state bar documents and the county’s new employee onboarding payroll procedures,” Tulare County communications director Stuart Anderson told CNN in an email.

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