New Experiential Learning Requirements for California Bar Applicants

experiential learning requirementsThe State Bar of California has just adopted the proposal of the Association of American Law Schools Section on Clinical Legal Education regarding minimum experiential learning requirements for bar applicants. From here on out, prior to sitting for the California bar, applicants must have completed 15 credits of experiential education.

This proposal encourages more on the job training, especially for young lawyers, to ensure that they are properly prepared to meet the needs of future clients upon admission to the bar.

In so doing, California has expanded upon ABA Standard 303(a)(3), the American Bar Association’s minimum requirement standard which states that law students only need to complete six hours of experiential credit before graduating.

In fact, the American Bar Association only mandated this minimum requirement back in August 2014. Prior to that, only one hour was required for graduation, which pales in comparison to the various other professions that require pre-licensing professional skills training. Social workers and nurses, for example, must receive four times as much experiential training for their professions compared to those in a JD program; physicians require more than six times as much to be considered fit to practice.

Since the proposal was approved, California law schools and the State Bar of California have worked together to ensure a smooth transition for lawyers seeking admission to the bar. Amidst this period of adjustment, the state is being flexible in its approval of credits upon admission to the bar until law schools have sufficiently ramped up their program offerings to law students in the state.

With this ruling put into practice, it will be interesting to see if other states follow suit. Stay tuned.

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