Monday, August 16, 2021
Despite strong opposition, The Standards Committee has issued its Final Recommendation Concerning Standard 303(C) with only minor tweaks. Below is the relevant part of the Recommendations. The underlinings are mine.
Standard 303: CURRICULUM
Summary: The proposed revisions include a new section of the Standard and new Interpretations 303-6 and 303-7 requiring law schools to provide education on bias, cross-cultural competency, and racism. There was strong support at the October 2020 Roundtables for mandating this education, and a few commentators supported adding the requirement during the Notice and Comment period following the February 2021 Council meeting. Other groups of deans, faculty, and affiliates have also written to the Council expressing the need for this education. The revisions also include a proposed new definition of professional identity in Interpretation 303-5 based on comments from the Notice and Comment period following the February 2021 Council meeting. Comments Received: All but eight comments specifically referenced Standard 303 or seemed to address these revisions without specifically mentioning Standard 303. The vast majority of these commentors expressed concerns about the revisions. Among the concerns were ABA overreach and interference with law school policies and curricula; imposition of certain ideology and corresponding First Amendment issues; academic freedom issues; discussion on these topics not incorporating differing perspectives; and differences in opinion on common theories that may be taught and the effectiveness of training in bias, cross-cultural competency, and racism.
Recommendation: We recommend the Council approve the changes to Standard 303 as presented in the redline below, which includes a few clarifications to address some of the concerns expressed. These clarifications are highlighted in yellow [italics]. First, “training and education” has been changed to “education” to avoid implying a requirement of a particular method of education. Similarly, Interpretation 303-8 was added to specifically state that nothing in the Standard prescribes the type and content of the education on bias, cross-cultural competency, and racism. Lastly, it is now clearer that this second occasion for education can also take place as part of a law clinic or a field placement.
Redline of Standard 303 [italics]
Standard 303: Curriculum
(c) A law school shall provide education to law students on bias, cross-cultural competency, and racism:
(1) at the start of the program of legal education, and
(2) at least once again before graduation. For students engaged in law clinics or field placements, the second educational occasion will take place before, concurrent with, or as part of their enrollment in clinical or field placement courses. . . .
Interpretation 303-6 With respect to 303(a)(1), the importance of cross-cultural competency to professionally responsible representation and the obligation of lawyers to promote a justice system that provides equal access and eliminates bias, discrimination, and racism in the law should be among the values and responsibilities of the legal profession to which students are introduced.
Interpretation 303-7 Standard 303(c) may be satisfied by:
(1) Orientation sessions for incoming students on bias, cross-cultural competency, and racism;
(2) Guest lectures by experts in the areas of bias, cross-cultural competency, and racism;
(3) Courses on racism and bias in the law; or
(4) Other educational experiences that educate students in cross-cultural competency.
While law schools need not add a required upper-division course to satisfy this requirement, law schools
must demonstrate that all law students are required to participate in a substantial activity designed to
reinforce the skill of cultural competency and their obligation as future lawyers to work to eliminate
racism in the legal profession.
Standard 303 does not prescribe the form or content of the education on bias, cross-cultural competency, and racism required by Standard 303(c).
August 2021 Council Meeting Open Session
Friday, August 20, 1 – 3 p.m. (Central)
To register to attend the virtual Open Session, please visit: https://americanbar.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_GXMullBBT6apCDUpxiSlYw.