Friday, September 26, 2014

Mass. Bar Exam Will Have an “Access to Justice” Component

From Bloomberg BNA Highlights:

Massachusetts hopes to influence law school curricula and better prepare its attorneys for pro bono work by adding an “access to justice” section to its bar exam focusing on typical civil legal aid practice areas, the chief justice of the state's highest court told Bloomberg BNA Sept. 15.

The July 2016 exam will mark the first appearance of the new section, Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Ralph Gants said during a Sept. 15 panel discussion in Washington.

The new section will cover subjects like divorce and alimony, foreclosure, landlord-tenant relationships and small claims, Gants told Bloomberg BNA in an interview following the panel.

Between 40 and 50 percent of new law school graduates who pass the bar exam in Massachusetts are unable to find legal employment within the first year out of school, Gants told BNA.

There are seven law schools in Massachusetts, and Gants told Bloomberg BNA he hopes the new bar exam will influence the “non-Harvard” schools to focus classes on developing skills in traditional civil legal aid practice areas.

“We want to resurrect the model of the old country lawyer,” someone who is able to “cobble a living together” in a variety of practice areas, Gants told Bloomberg BNA.

“Ideally, we're creating a cadre of community lawyers,” he said.

You can read more here. Will other jurisdictions follow the Massachusetts example?


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