The California Bar Wants to Force Law Schools to Provide Practical Skills

The California Bar Association is considering a proposal that would require bar applicants to have taken a practical skills course during law school in order to be admitted to the bar. The Bar Association, however, has received some pushback from two prominent law school deans. Stanford Law Dean Larry Kramer urged caution. And UC Irvine Dean Erwin Chemerinsky said, “I have very mixed feelings. On the one hand, I stringently support skills training in law school. On the other hand, I don’t like the idea of the state bar saying, ‘This is what you should be teaching.’…Law schools should decide what they teach. Not the bar.”

I generally think that law school clinics are great because they teach students practical skills. I can’t wait to work in a clinic my second or third year. But I wonder whether Bar Associations–who have a mixed history of writing rules that favor the lawyers versus rules that favor the public good–are the right group to tell law schools how to teach the next generation of lawyers.

And I think an even better would idea would be to skip the third year of law school altogther and require a year long internship with a practicing attorney. That would certainly be cheaper for students.

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