After years of debate, the ABA on August 11, 2014 approved a host of amendments to the “Standards for Approval of Law Schools,” which the association’s Standards Review Committee submitted to the House of Delegates earlier in the month. Among the proposals in the committee’s sixty-six pages of recommendations are the following that relate directly to legal ethics and professional competence:
- Law schools must offer “one or more experiential course(s) totaling at least six credit hours.” Under this standard, “an experiential course must be a simulation course, a law clinic, or a field placement. To satisfy this requirement, a course must be primarily experiential in nature and must: (i) integrate doctrine, theory, skills, and legal ethics, and engage students in performance of one or more [professional skills] ; (ii) develop the concepts underlying the professional skills being taught; (iii) provide multiple opportunities for performance; and (iv) provide opportunities for self-evaluation.”
- Law schools must have a “sufficient” bar passage rate, which includes either a total school pass rate of 75%, or a school first-time-taker pass rate “no more than 15 points below the average” in the school’s jurisdiction.
- The “objectives” of legal education now place greater emphasis on the importance of preparing practice-ready students with an understanding of their professional responsibilities: “A law school shall maintain a rigorous program of legal education that prepares . . . students, upon graduation, for admission to the bar, and for effective, ethical, and responsible participation as members of the legal profession.”
All Louisiana law schools will have to adjust their curricula to conform with these new standards.