Today’s Topic: Putting the New York State Bar Exam in Context: Reform Initiatives Play a Role in Discussions about how to “Fix” Legal Education
Kaufman began the talk with a summary of the reform initiatives. Over the past 20 years, the two major concerns have been:
- The Bar Exam measures a narrow range of skills.
- It has a disparate impact on minority applicants.
Several of initiatives also looked at the effect of speededness and the addition of professional competencies. In 2012, there were these recommendations:
- Streamline the exam
- Give credit to completing a certified law school clinic
- Create a trial PSABE
- Study the effect of speededness
- Look closely at the New Hampshire program
In addition to the two major concerns previously mentioned, SALT worries that Bar passage standards are driving a host of decisions in law school such as inhibiting curricular change.
Kaufman admitted that “It is very difficult to change the bar exam” but elaborated on the following current projects:
- a pilot modeled after NH which links to performance based curriculum
- looking at the California initiative (15 credits awarded for experiential learning)
- early administration of the bar exam after 2 years
The workshop concluded with a lively discussion about apprenticeships and the bar exam in countries such as Canada and England.