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July 19, 2022

Virtual program examines alternatives for traditional licensing of new attorneys

CHICAGO, July 19, 2022 — The seventh online Redesigning Legal Speaker Series will take place on July 28, and explore alternative lawyer licensing programs and how they differ from the current bar exam system as well as detail what some jurisdictions are now considering.

What:               “Redesigning Legal: Redesigning How We License New Lawyers
When:              Thursday, July 28, 12:30-1:30 p.m. EDT
Where:             Online

Alternative lawyer licensing programs have the potential to impact the legal profession, and the traditional steps a new law graduate takes in becoming a licensed lawyer. The Council of the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar now accredits 196 law schools nationally, and the Preface to its comprehensive requirements includes language that says, in part, that “every candidate for (bar) admission should be examined by public authority to determine fitness for admission.”

The lawyer licensing process typically demands passing a bar exam, which serves as an extra measure of competence and dedication. Also, during the COVID-19 pandemic multiple jurisdictions began experimenting with alternative licensures, prompting many in the profession to ask whether the traditional system needs an overhaul, and what that might look like.

The panel that will explore these issues includes:

  • Logan Cornett, who serves as director of research for the Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System (IAALS). Cornett has published empirical research on a variety of law-related topics, including legal education, and she has studied pilot projects implementing proposed procedural rules changes.
  • Joanna Perini-Abbott, who is a principal at Angeli Law Group and has been on the Board of Bar Examiners in Oregon for the past six years, including serving as vice chair and chair in 2020 and 2021. She has also chaired the state’s Alternatives to the Bar Exam Task Force, which recommended to the Oregon Supreme Court changes in the way lawyers are licensed.
  • Louisa Heiny, associate dean for academic affairs and a professor in the S.J. Quinney College of Law at the University of Utah. Heiny teaches and advises in the Academic Support Program and worked on diploma privilege licensing during the COVID-19 pandemic. She previously taught at the University of Colorado Law School.
  • Donna Hershkowitz, who serves as chief of programs for the State Bar of California and oversees its Offices of Access & Inclusion, Admissions, Professional Competence and Professional Support & Client Protection. She also has served as interim executive director of the state bar, and in her current role she serves as state bar legislative director.

Launched in June 2021, the Redesigning Legal Speaker Series is co-sponsored by IAALS at the University of Denver and Legal Hackers, in addition to support from three ABA entities: Center for Innovation, Center for Professional Responsibility and the Standing Committee on the Delivery of Legal Services.

Registration is free but required in advance and can be found at the bottom of this webpage. Media who would like to attend this virtual event are asked to email Kelsey Montague at IAALS at [email protected].

About sponsors of the series:

IAALS is a national, independent research center dedicated to facilitating continuous improvement and advancing excellence in the American legal system. Its mission is to forge innovative and practical solutions to problems within the American legal system.

Legal Hackers is a global movement of lawyers, policymakers, designers, technologists and academics who explore and develop creative solutions to some of the most pressing issues at the intersection of law and technology. Through local meetups, hackathons and workshops, Legal Hackers spot issues and opportunities where technology can improve and inform the practice of law and where law, legal practice and policy can adapt to rapidly changing technology.

The ABA is the largest voluntary association of lawyers in the world. As the national voice of the legal profession, the ABA works to improve the administration of justice, promotes programs that assist lawyers and judges in their work, accredits law schools, provides continuing legal education, and works to build public understanding around the world of the importance of the rule of law.