Thursday, July 8, 2021
Dean Larry Cunningham has written an article that advocates that the "ABA's Proposed DEI Accreditation Standard Should Focus On Cross-Cultural Competency, Not Bias And Racism." Larry Cunningham, Cross Cultural Competency as a Learning Outcome.
Dean Cunningham makes an excellent point. In today's world, lawyers need to be able to interact successfully with individiuals from other cultures--both foreign and domestic. In fact, I would say that this is part of an attorney's duty of competence.
"The ABA received a flood of comments regarding a series of proposed changes to the Standards. The proposals involve professional identity formation and, broadly, the topic of diversity and inclusion. I added my two cents, suggesting areas where the proposals got it right and where they could use improvement. I noted an overarching concern about the ABA Standards being used to advance particular views of legal education that are better left to individual schools to decide whether to adopt. As I wrote, I can understand fully why schools may wish to specialize or distinguish themselves through professional identity formation or, for that matter, law and economics, public interest law, or international perspectives. That does not mean those views should be imposed on the other roughly 200 schools governed by the Standards as a matter of accreditation."
"In my comment, I suggested a different approach: adding cross-cultural competency to Standard 302."
"If we are serious about the skill of cross-cultural competency—and I think we should be—then it should be added to the list of mandatory learning outcomes in Standard 302 rather than as a prescriptive activity that law schools should engage in through Standard 303."
Here is another excerpt concerning the proposed 303(c):
"(Before addressing my suggestion, I pause to note that I recommended striking “bias” and “racism” from the proposal and focusing instead on cross-cultural competency. It seems odd to single out one “ism” (racism) when there are many forms of discrimination in society. The word “bias” could be construed to mean “implicit bias,” which in turn requires the ABA to wade into the debate over whether implicit bias is grounded in science or faulty assumptions about human thought and behavior and whether implicit bias training is effective or not. I prefer focusing on cross-cultural competency. Contrary to what some of the other comments said, cross-cultural competency is a known lawyering skill, one that the clinical, writing, and skills communities have been teaching for a long time and for which there is a great deal of helpful literature and approaches.)"
Stay tuned for some important news on cross-cultural training in the next few days.