Getting a J.D. in California might become just a little bit more difficult. The State Bar of California’s Task Force on Admissions Regulation Reform has issued a recommendation that new attorneys be required to complete 15 hours of practical skills training and 50 hours of pro bono service before being admitted to practice, according to The National Law Journal. If approved, the requirement could be in place as soon as 2015.
New York was the first state to require pro bono work prior to bar admission, but California would be the first state to add a practical skills mandate.
California State Bar President Patrick Kelly told The National Law Journal, “We want to better prepare lawyers to face the challenges and reach the potential that brought them to law school in the first place.”
If the requirement is passed, students would be able to take practical training through clinics, externships, or simulation courses during their second and third years of law school or participate in a bar-approved apprenticeship, clerkship, or externship for six months to fulfill the practical skills portion. The state task is eager to provide law students with some flexibility in fulfilling the requirement. The proposal also would require an additional ten hours of post-admission continuing legal education focused on competency skills training.
The requirement was recommended by the task force after eight public hearings were held to discuss the issue. The task force decided to support the plan on Tuesday, and it will be put to a vote by the state bar’s board of directors as soon as October. State Bar executive director Joseph Dunn said that the board of directors appears supportive of the proposal.
“What we are doing is profoundly important because of the size of our bar and the statement we’ll be making about better preparation of lawyers as they enter the profession,” said Jon Streeter, chairman of the task force and former State Bar president.