PLEASE NOTE: Publication for public comment is not, and shall not be, construed as a recommendation or approval by the Board of Trustees of the materials published.
State Bar of California, Task Force on Admissions Regulation Reform: Phase I Final Report
In February 2012, the Board of Trustees approved the appointment of the Task Force on Admissions Regulation Reform (“Task Force”). The Phase I charge of the Task Force was to examine whether the State Bar should develop a regulatory requirement for a pre-admission competency training program, and if so, propose such a program to the Supreme Court. The Task Force finalized its Phase I Final Report on June 24, 2013.
Since June 2012, the Task Force has held eight (8) public hearings in the State Bar’s Los Angeles and San Francisco offices, where it heard testimony from practitioners, legal academics, judges, clients, other state bar associations and members of the public. The Task Force also considered an extensive body of research and literature on the topic of law practice competency skills training for new lawyers that goes back decades and that has repeatedly addressed the same set of questions considered by the Task Force.
Below is an excerpt which summarizes the findings and proposed recommendations from pages 1-2 of the Phase I Final Report:
“The importance of providing new lawyers with opportunities to develop competency skills has been driven, in large part, by the rapidly changing landscape of the legal profession, where, due to the economic climate and client demands for trained and sophisticated practitioners fresh out of law school, fewer and fewer opportunities are available for new lawyers to gain structured competency training early in their careers. Many new lawyers, in fact, are now entering the profession as solo practitioners, without the solid foundation necessary to represent clients in a competent manner and with nowhere to turn to build that foundation.
From the standpoint of regulatory policy, this situation presents serious issues of public protection that cannot be ignored. The record that we have compiled and examined confirms the importance and urgency of a thoughtful policy response.
…we now answer the charge given to us in the affirmative: In our view, a new set of training requirements focusing on competency and professionalism should be adopted in California in order to better prepare new lawyers for successful transition into law practice, and many of these new requirements ought to take effect pre-admission, prior to the granting of a law license.
…Our proposed recommendations, in brief overview, are as follows:
Pre-admission: A competency training requirement fulfilled prior to admission to practice. There would be two routes for fulfillment of this pre-admission competency training requirement: (a) at any time in law school, a candidate for admission must have taken at least 15 units of practice-based, experiential course work that is designed to develop law practice competencies, and (b) in lieu of some or all of the 15 units of practice-based, experiential course work, a candidate for admission may opt to participate in a Bar-approved externship, clerkship or apprenticeship at any time during or following completion of law school;
Pre-admission or post-admission: An additional competency training requirement, fulfilled either at the pre- or post- admission stage, where 50 hours of legal services is specifically devoted to pro bono or modest means clients. Credit towards those hours would be available for “in-the-field” experience under the supervision and guidance of a licensed practitioner or a judicial officer; and,
Post-admission: 10 additional hours of Mandatory Continuing Legal Education (“MCLE”) courses for new lawyers, over and above the required MCLE hours for all active members of the Bar, specifically focused on law practice competency training. Alternatively, credit towards these hours would be available for participation in mentoring programs.”
To be determined
State Bar of California Task Force on Admissions Regulation Reform: Phase 1 Final Report June 24, 2013
Board Committee on Regulation, Admissions & Discipline Oversight
5 p.m. Sept. 5, 2013
State Bar of California
180 Howard St.
San Francisco, CA 94105-1639