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Friday, March 30, 2018

Legal Ed's Futures: No. 40 (guest post, Joan Howarth)

Most symposium participants have not discussed attorney licensing as being ripe for serious reform.  In response, let me describe a licensing regime worth considering.  Its key features include:

  • A one-time examination, after three or four years of law school.
  • The examination is all or nothing, so the new attorney may handle any matter on day one, without regard to specialization or degree of difficulty.
  • The subjects tested have been understood to be foundational since 1870.
  • Memorization of common law rules is emphasized.
  • Although taken after graduation, the exam tests knowledge and application of doctrine mainly learned in the first year of law school.
  • The same multiple choice component is used across the country, but states get to determine competency by setting different passing scores on that single test. 
  • The test is sufficiently similar to the LSAT that elite law schools can make curricular decisions without being distracted by licensing concerns. 
  • Clinical experience – or even having seen an attorney with a client -- is optional prior to licensing.

Oh wait.  That’s our current system of attorney licensing.  Surely changing this is foundational for most of the other reforms that have been discussed. 

Joan Howarth (Michigan St.)

Posted by Dan Rodriguez on March 30, 2018 at 12:30 PM | Permalink


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