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State Bar Wants To Call The Tune

Publication Date: 
April 30, 2012
The National Law Journal
Karen Sloan

Dean Larry Kramer is quoted in the following article on the increasing trend among law schools to include skills training in their curriculum. The National Law Journal's Karen Sloan reports:

Law schools have caught plenty of flak in recent years from critics who charge that they routinely produce graduates who can write a law review article but cannot draft a contract or interview a client. Now the State Bar of California is mulling whether to impose a practical skills training requirement on lawyers applying for admission — a move some legal academics say is unnecessary and could stifle innovation.

"My personal judgment is that we don't need this right now," said Stanford Law School Dean Larry Kramer, noting that many law schools have been moving to add clinics and other skills-based courses. "I think they're being a little too quick without recognizing what's already going on."


Stanford's Kramer begs to differ. Many members of the practicing bar don't realize the strides law schools have taken away from the strictly lecture-based model, he said.


"I think law schools, even without the bar's intervention, are responding to market pressures and have implemented skills training with plans to add more," Kramer said. "Bar associations are largely populated by lawyers who went to law school a long time ago, when there was no skills training, and their perceptions are out of date."

Better to allow law schools to experiment, Kramer argued. Strict regulations on what and how law schools teach would inevitably stifle innovation and force all California schools into the same mold, he said.