Wednesday, August 10, 2011

ABA adopts resolution urging law schools to provide more skills training

We told you last week that the New York State Bar Association had asked the ABA to adopt a resolution at this week's House of Delegates meeting requesting that law schools provide more skills training to law students.  On Tuesday the NYSBA got its wish. The resolution seems largely symbolic, though, since the ABA isn't requiring, or even suggesting,  specific action on the part of law schools.  Perhaps it's the thought that counts.

From the National Law Journal:

Legal education was in the spotlight throughout the two-day meeting of the American Bar Association's House of Delegates on Aug. 9 and 10 in Toronto.

Delegates approved a series of resolutions pertaining to the financing and curriculum of legal education, although the ABA's legislative body lacks the power to compel law schools to make changes or control over how student loans are administered.
. . . .

the delegates approved a resolution introduced by the New York State Bar Association calling for legal educators to produce practice-ready lawyers. The resolution declares that the ABA will "urge legal education providers to implement curricular programs intended to develop practice ready lawyers including, but not limited to, enhanced capstone and clinical courses that include client meetings and court appearances."

The resolution was the outgrowth of task force looking at critical issues in the legal profession, said former New York bar president Stephen Younger.

"Are our young lawyers equipped to go into the legal profession?" he said. "Many of our young lawyers come out of law schools having never drafted a complaint."


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Now there's an irony: the Massachusetts School of Law, where I teach, has been turning out practice-ready lawyers for some 25 years (and doing it for a current price of under $15,000 per year), despite the active opposition of the ABA's section on legal education, and the State of New York has steadily refused to even grant our school a hearing on its applications for waivers from that state's ABA-only rule.
What an interesting delight to have the legal establishment call for the ABA to steer itself toward the very forms of legal education it has so consistently disdained.
Or could it be that the legal shop must still be closed to all but the pedigreed?
Andy Starkis

Posted by: Andrej Starkis | Aug 11, 2011 7:43:52 AM

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