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Want a California law license? You should take 15 units of law-school skills training, panel says

Posted Jun 13, 2013 6:00 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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A passing grade on the bar exam wouldn’t be enough proof of legal competency in California under a proposal approved on Tuesday by a state bar task force.

To get a law license in the state, would-be lawyers would have to complete 15 units of skills courses or externships in law school. They would have to provide 50 hours of legal services for pro bono or modest-means clients either before or after admission. And they would have to take 10 hours of continuing legal education after admission that focuses on competency skills. The Daily Journal (sub. req.) covers the proposal, which was announced in a press release.

According to the Daily Journal, several states impose skills requirements on new lawyers, but the California proposal is the most far-reaching. In an interview with the publication, task force chairman Jon Streeter said that "people all across the country are watching what we're doing here." He mentioned a comment by a law professor at Washington University in St. Louis that his group's work will "have a national impact on law schools ... and ultimately the quality of law practice across the country."

The recommendations were made by the State Bar of California’s Task Force on Admissions Regulation Reform and still must be approved by the bar’s Board of Trustees and possibly the California Supreme Court, according to the press release.

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