So says a law professor writing a book about early black lawyers in Virginia, quoted in this Roanoke Times article about A.J. Oliver, the first black lawyer in Roanoke.
The article says:
"According to Hylton, Oliver was part of a wave of black attorneys who began appearing in Virginia in the last decades of the 19th century. Increased opportunities for blacks after the Civil War was one reason; low standards for admission to the bar didn't hurt. Applicants, white or black, often just had to pass an oral test administered by a judge or magistrate.
By Hylton's count, there were 35 black lawyers in Virginia in 1890 and 53 by 1900.
Ironically, the numbers began to fall again as Jim Crow laws excluded blacks from many public institutions. More rigorous written testing for lawyers didn't help. For many decades, the number of black lawyers in Virginia languished."