CLEA Joins SALT in Urging Council to Suspend Accreditation Standard 316

Previously, we posted the Society of American Law Teacher’s statement calling for the Council on Legal Education to suspend law school Accreditation Standard 316 “in light of the COVID-19 disruptions to the 2020 bar exam nationwide. ”  (You may remember that ABA Standard 316 requires that “at least 75 percent of a law school’s graduates in a calendar year must have passed the bar exam within two years of their date of graduation.”)

Today, the Clinical Legal Education Association (CLEA)  joined SALT in urging the ABA Council on Legal Education to suspend 316 as the

only remedy that makes sense given that we cannot predict the ultimate impact of COVID-19.

CLEA’s letter submitted by Kendall L. Kerew, CLEA President, on behalf of the Board of Directors, and found here, notes how consistent this submission is with past submissions to the Council and with their Board of Directors April 21, 2020 statement on licensing for 2020 law graduates:

CLEA has long expressed concerns about Standard 316’s over-reliance on the high-stakes, timed bar examination and its negative impact on diversity in the legal profession. CLEA also has criticized the exam’s emphasis on test-taking skills and memorization of substantive knowledge over legal analysis, problem-solving, and lawyering skills, which are all essential to legal practice. 

Finally, CLEA, whose mission includes a commitment to “pursue and promote justice and diversity as core values of the legal profession,” writes that 

The ability of law students to prepare for and take the
bar exam, given serious virus-related disruptions, is greatly hindered and varies significantly, depending on location. In fact, growing data underscores that people of color face disproportionate illness and death from COVID-19.

The Council meets tomorrow May 15th to “conduct its accreditation business by video conference and will have a brief open session conference call on Friday, May 15, beginning at 3:30 p.m. CDT, to review and take action on the ABA Standards and Rules of Procedure previously circulated for Notice and Comment.” 

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