California Bar Journal
CBJ - December 2012 #02.
Academics urge State Bar to hold law schools accountable for training
The California LawyerDecember 2012Academics urge State Bar to hold law schools accountable for trainingBy Amy YarbroughStaff WriterDespite initial resistance from some law schools, academics on a State Bar task force looking at whether practical skills training should be required for new lawyers have emerged as strong supporters of the idea.
When the Task Force on Admissions Regulation Reform met for the fourth time on Nov. 7, UC Hastings School of Law assistant dean Shauna Marshall and UC Berkeley School of Law professor Marjorie Shultz said law schools should share in the burden of teaching aspiring attorneys the day-to-day skills they need to interact with clients or run a business. Deanell Tacha, dean of Pepperdine University's School of Law agreed.
When the practical skills training proposal was announced earlier this year, some deans cautioned the State Bar not to dictate the content of their curriculum, concerned that it would interfere with similar efforts some schools already have under way. But Marshall said the bar should be pushing law schools to do more, noting that clients are no longer willing to pay for young lawyers to get on-the-job training at law firms.
"It's even more incumbent on us to put pressure on law schools to take up this obligation," she said.
Shultz, a professor emeritus, said she was concerned that the State Bar alone wouldn't be able to convince law schools to make practical skills training part of the core curriculum. But she agreed that law schools need to be doing more to prepare their students for the working world.
"I'm really sympathetic with the notion that students pay this enormous amount of money for three years of training, and then we start to figure out what we need to teach them about either professionalism or actual performance on the job," she said.
Former State Bar president and task force chair Jon Streeter said during the meeting that the plan was to take a "basket approach where we would have a number of different avenues to fulfill the requirement."
While the details are still being ironed out, options include adding a new Minimum Continuing Legal Education (MCLE) requirement that lawyers would take after the bar exam, but prior to being admitted to...