California Bar Journal
CBJ - October 2012 #02.
Task force supports practical skills training requirement
The California LawyerOctober 2012Task force supports practical skills training requirementBy Susan McRaeSpecial to the Bar JournalA State Bar task force studying legal competency of lawyers entering the profession has concluded that some form of practical skills training is necessary before being licensed to practice in the state. But the panel is still grappling with just what form that training will take.
"There's a broad consensus that practical training for new lawyers over and above passage of the bar is something that needs to be addressed," said outgoing State Bar President Jon B. Streeter, who chairs the Task Force on Admissions Regulation Reform.
Although there's no "one-size-fits-all" type of training, Streeter said, "it may be that a good answer to the question is an 'all-of-the-above' type approach."
Task force members expressed concern about the cost of such an undertaking and whether there would be enough programs available to accommodate the 12,000 students who apply to be lawyers each year, especially during a time of economic crisis and state budget cuts.
Streeter set up the 21-member task force earlier this year to study the need for improved practical skills training amid growing concern that law schools were turning out students versed in legal theory, but lacking in real-world application. Task force members include lawyers, judges, academics and business professionals, each bringing a unique perspective to the undertaking.
At its last meeting on Sept. 25 in Los Angeles, the group considered an array of methods toward achieving the goal, including state-approved apprenticeships and mentoring programs administered through law firms, public agencies, the courts or nonprofit public interest organizations. The training could be either a pre- or post-admission requirement. Streeter also said he'd thought about whether the training could be connected to some form of debt relief for new lawyers.
"We are all in this together," Streeter said. "As a profession, we need to partner with law schools and with courts and other governmental agencies in order to bring a new focus to training young lawyers. I think we can do that by encouraging active practitioners to get involved in mentoring and also...