Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Iowa Supreme Court considers rule change to allow law students and recent grads more opportunities to develop legal practice skills

At the request of Iowa Legal Aid, that state's Supreme Court has posted for public comment a suggested rule change that would expand the circumstances under which law students and recent grads who have not yet passed the bar could engage in limited, supervised law practice.  Specifically, the proposed rule change would:

  1. Make it clear that supervised student practice includes transactional matters.
  2. Allow students who have completed at least three semesters of law school to represent clients in administrative case proceedings without the necessity of a licensed attorney being present.
  3. Students who have graduated may continue to practice at the same level that they did in law school as long as the post-graduate placement is substantially the same and the law school approves. 
  4. The proposed change would make it clear that law students will be allowed to perform the same type of work for licensed attorneys that other non-lawyers perform such as paralegals.

The proposed rule change is intended to help direct much needed legal services to low-income Iowa residents as well as recognize that such opportunities provide graduating students with valuable practical experience during the "window" that exists after classses have ended but before the bar exam results are released.  The Supreme Court has stated that the proposed rule change is intended to permit students and recent grads to practice law on behalf of specific governmental and approved legal aid organizations under the supervision of a licensed attorney.

You can read the entire text of the proposed rule change as well as instructions for submitting public comments by clicking here.

Hat tip to the Wall Street Journal Law Blog.


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