Ohio State Professor Deborah Jones Merritt and Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System Research Director Logan Cornett just published an important report, Building a Better Bar: The Twelve Building Blocks of Minimum Competence, based on insights from 50 focus groups.
They found that minimum competence consists of 12 interlocking “building blocks,” including the ability to interact effectively with clients, communicate as a lawyer, and see the “big picture” of client matters.
They propose 10 recommendations that courts, law schools, bar associations, bar examiners, and other stakeholders should consider in their efforts to move towards better, evidence-based lawyer licensing.
These include requirements that candidates for licensure should be required to complete coursework that develops their ability to interact effectively with clients and negotiate.
In addition, they recommend that candidates should be required to complete coursework that focuses on the lawyer’s responsibility to promote and protect the quality of justice and includes closely supervised clinical and/or externship work.
They include recommendations to use performance tests and restrict use of essay and multiple choice exams.
Here’s a summary of the report. You might share it with your deans and curriculum committee chairs in case they haven’t seen it.
This brief summary doesn’t do justice to the insights from the report. I’m sure that faculty are working like crazy in this year of living dangerously, especially at this point in the semester. Do yourself a favor, though, and plan to spend an hour reading this report when you feel like procrastinating.
The report doesn’t include all my radical ideas for a negotiation school, but it clearly recommends moving in that direction.
I will discuss these ideas with Peter Robinson and Sukhsimran Singh in an upcoming event, They Should Call It Negotiation School, Not Law School, sponsored by the Pepperdine Caruso School of Law Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution. It will be on Tuesday, November 10, at 1 PT, 2 MT, 3 CT, 4 ET. Come join the conversation.
And don’t forget the zoom happy hour that Jen Reynolds & Company have organized for Sunday, November 1, at 4 PT, 5 MT, 6 CT, 7 ET. The first one was a blast. Take an hour off and have a good time hanging out with long-time friends and new ones.