NYSBA State Bar News nameplate

January/February 2014, Vol. 56, No. 1

Other bars also studying legal education, possible changes

American Bar Association

In September 2013, the ABA issued a draft report from its Task Force on the Future of Legal Education. The report called for changes in the pricing of legal education, liberalizing or eliminating certain accreditation standards, and speeding the pace of innovation and practical-skills training at law schools. It also called on courts and bar authorities to devise new frameworks for licensing legal service providers.

Specifically, the task force called for “serious re-engineering” of the complex practices involved in funding legal education; repealing or dramatically liberalizing the ABA Standards for Approval of Law Schools that establish strict standardization levels for law schools; fostering innovation through changes to the ABA accreditation system; shifting the emphasis in education more toward developing attorney competencies; and expanding the pool of those who can deliver legal services beyond just lawyers.

New York City Bar Association

In mid-November 2013, the City Bar’s Task Force on New Lawyers in a Changing Profession issued a report that examined the complex legal landscape, identified innovative trends in preparing new lawyers and looked at careers and their relationship to meeting unmet needs in the community.

Its recommendations include supporting innovations in legal education that provide skills and expertise needed in a changing legal landscape; providing students with opportunities to obtain “hard skills” and gain practical experience; finding ways for law schools to reduce costs; ensuring diversity in the profession; removing structural impediments that inhibit innovation, such as reducing the impact of the U.S. News & World Report rankings and reforming ABA standards to allow flexibility in curriculum design; reforming bar exams; and seeking new “sustainable career opportunities.”

—Mark Mahoney