Tuesday, August 12, 2014

ABA approves new accreditation standards to require more "experiential" learning opportunities

On Monday the ABA House of Delegates approved changes to the law school accreditation standards that, among other provisions, require students to take at least six hours of clinical coursework or other "experiential" learning opportunities.  In addition, the new standards encourage students to engage in substantial pro bono work (see this story  - here, here and here - about the New York State Bar Association rule mandating pro bono service for bar applicants) and remove the 20 hour per week limitation on student employment outside of school.  The National Law Journal and ABA Journal Blog have more details here and here, respectively.  Here's an excerpt from the former:

ABA Delegates Approve Law School Reforms


The American Bar Association’s governing body on Monday endorsed an extensive package of law school reforms designed to increase students’ clinical and distance-learning opportunities.

Standards for law schools would require students to take a minimum of six hours in a legal clinic or other “experiential” environment; encourage 50 hours of pro bono service; and allow students to take up to 15 credit hours of distance courses, up from 12. Students won’t be limited to 20 hours of outside work per week anymore.


To protect accreditation, law schools would have to shift toward assessments that focus on student outcomes—including bar-exam results and employment—rather than qualifications of incoming students or other factors.


“J.D. programs will remain a rigorous study of the law,” former Arizona Supreme Court Justice Ruth McGregor assured the ABA House of Delegates, which voted on the reforms during the ABA's annual meeting in Boston. “It will basically remain a three-year program.”  


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 Continue reading here.



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