On Monday, the governing body of the American Bar Association endorsed the package of law school reforms that will increase the clinical and distance-learning opportunities of the students, according to The National Law Journal.
The new standards would require students to take no less than six hours of work in a legal clinic or some other form of “experiential” environment. The standards would also ask students to complete 50 hours of pro bono work and permit them to take up to 15 hours of courses from a distance. They also will not have a 20-hour limit of outside work under the new standards.
Ruth McGregor, a former Arizona Supreme Court Justice, said, “J.D. programs will remain a rigorous study of the law.” McGregor spoke in front of the ABA House of Delegates. The governing body voted on the reforms during the annual meeting in Boston of the ABA.
“It will basically remain a three-year program,” McGregor said.
McGregor belongs to the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar. The review of the law school standards began in 2008 and the previous review was in 2003.
The majority of the changes received unanimous votes, but the panel disagreed on two aspects of the reforms.
One of the reforms centers around law schools being required to “demonstrate by concrete action a commitment to diversity and inclusion” in staff, student admissions and faculty. The wording used in this reform specified gender, ethnicity and race when defining diversity. Multiple groups in the ABA wanted to add gender identity, sexual orientation and disability to the wording.
The other reform involved the prohibition of law schools issuing credit for students who work in field-placement programs when they also receive compensation for the work performed. This measure was returned to the section for continued study after a long debate on the issue.