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News

Law Office Management

Mar. 2, 2015

State Bar: New Competency Requirements

The State Bar has proposed new training requirements.

The State Bar has proposed pro bono or reduced-fee service, practice-based learning, and more competency training as new requirements for admission. If adopted, the plan will make California only the second state, after New York, with such rules. However, California's requirements will be more flexible, allowing lawyers a year for completion.

Robert Williams, a partner and chief talent officer at Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton, welcomes the requirements as bringing "legal education closer to legal practice." Other states are mulling similar rules, according to the American Bar Association.

"The new requirements will be a reasonable and effective means to deliver much-needed pro bono services in California," says Chris Dueringer, a partner and pro bono coordinator at Bryan Cave in Santa Monica.

First District Court of Appeal Justice Jon Streeter, former president of the State Bar and chair of the task force that proposed the requirements, says pro bono work could expand new attorneys' horizons. "It's not the sexy kind of big-moola job with a big, very impressive starting salary; it's not something that young people think about much," Streeter says. "Hopefully this new program will focus people more on the opportunities to set up law practices working for [moderate-income] people."

The requirements include:

-15 units of practice-based experiential training during law school or equivalent post-graduate participation in externships, clerkships, or apprenticeships.

-50 hours of pro bono or reduced-fee legal services before or after admission.

-10 hours of additional competency-training MCLE in the first year after admission.

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Kari Santos

Daily Journal Staff Writer

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