Should Lawyering Skills Be Required for Admission to the Bar?

skillsNew York’s highest court is considering imposing such a requirement. On October 9, 2015, the court requested public comment on a recommendation from its Task Force on Experiential Learning and Admission to the Bar that New York “adopt a new mechanism for ensuring that all applicants for admission to the bar possess the requisite skills and are familiar with the professional values for effective, ethical and responsible practice.” See Request for Public Comment, State of New York Court of Appeals (Oct. 9, 2015). The Task Force suggested five “paths” by which an applicant could demonstrate the requisite competency:

  1. Pathway 1 would be satisfied by a certification from the applicant’s law school confirming that skills training is included in its curriculum, and that the applicant demonstrated competency in those skills.
  2. Pathway 2 would be satisfied by proof from the applicant’s law school that the student completed 15 credits of practice-based experiential coursework designed to foster professional competency, and/or participated in noncredit summer employment programs.
  3. Pathway 3 would be satisfied by completing New York’s Pro Bono Scholars Program.
  4. Pathway 4 would be satisfied by participating in a post-graduation apprenticeship (paid or unpaid) lasting six months or more under the supervision of a duly-licensed lawyer.
  5. Pathway 5 would be satisfied by the full-time practice of law (in any jurisdiction) for a period of one year.