The current President of the State Bar of California is chairing a committee to explore a requirement that newly graduated attorneys satisfy a practical training curriculum as a condition of licensing. That is, that Bar Applicants undergo a clinical experience to acquire the practical skills of lawyering before being allowed to provide legal counsel to the public.
The Committee will explore the scope and structure of such a proposal. Will a clinical program be rolled out gradually? What will be the minimum clinical experience? Will there be exemptions? What will be the economic impact on the public? How will the program be implemented? Where will the clinical training be given, and who will provide it? All unanswered questions currently.
I applaud our State Bar President for bringing this issue into focus. There are many lawyers in this State graduating from unaccredited schools who pass the Bar with no real opportunity to obtain training as summer law clerks or as new associates in large law firms with internal training and mentoring. The result can be confusing, and sometimes disastrous. Further, the complexity and range of the law is daunting to the experienced. It is overwhelming to the uninitiated. The public must be protected, and the reputation of the Profession as competent served as well.
Other professions, as medicine and accounting, require such clinical accountability. It is over time to move the legal profession in this same direction.
Kudos to State Bar President Jon Streeter. I just hope his one year term of office is long enough to accomplish meaningful dialogue of lawyers AND the public on this important issue.
For a full reading of the President's letter in the California State Bar Journal, go to: Jon Streeter .