The Council of the American Bar Association Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar on Aug. 14 set an ambitious agenda for the coming school year, focusing on concerns about career lawyer well-being and professionalism, equity and diversity, and online learning.
In the past few weeks alone, two outside groups have urged the council, which serves as the national accreditor of 200 U.S. law schools, to take a closer look at how it administers its law school accreditation standards related to diversity and inclusion. First, 150 law school deans asked the council to require training around bias, cultural competence and anti-racism. Then the Society of American Law Teachers wrote the council requesting an outside audit of its standards and practices for enforcing Standard 206, which addresses diversity and inclusion. The letter also asked for a delay in future enforcement of a toughened bar passage standard, known as Standard 316, because of concerns with state bar exams amid the pandemic.
The council has scheduled a virtual invitational roundtable on Oct. 2 to address these topics.
“The council is conscious of various issues regarding bar administrations across the country. We are continuing to monitor that situation.,” said Council Chair Scott Bales, a former Arizona Supreme Court chief justice.
With COVID-19 continuing to present significant uncertainty in day-to-day law school operations, online education has moved to the forefront, as nearly all law schools switched to remote learning last spring. This semester, some schools have pursued in-person classes while others have gone online in a full or partial mode.