I. MISSION STATEMENT
The education of a lawyer is a continual process. An appropriate education helps shape a lawyer’s role as a professional provider of an invaluable service to the public. Legal education has been described as a continuum, an unending process beginning before matriculation to law school and continuing throughout one’s career. With these ideas in mind, the Supreme Court of Ohio and the Ohio State Bar Association appointed the Special Commission on the Education of Lawyers to evaluate the status and effectiveness of the processes and the institutions along that continuum. The charge to the Commission was:
The purpose of the Special Commission on Education for the Legal Profession is to consider and to pursue implementation, where appropriate, of the Report and Recommendations of the Ohio Conclave on Education for the Legal Profession. The Special Commission will determine which of the recommendations can and should be implemented immediately and which deserve additional study or implementation over a longer period of time.
The Special Commission is not prohibited from developing further recommendations as the form and substance of legal education continues to evolve.
Building on the Ohio Conclave and its precursor, the MacCrate Report, the Joint Commission will be organized around four central principles:
1. The practice of law is built around a set of skills and values that can be identified, analyzed and taught;
2. Mastering those skills and values is a life-long proposition, starting before law school and continuing throughout one’s career;
3. Responsibility for training in these skills and values is a shared responsibility of the bench, the organized bar, the practicing bar, and the legal academy; requiring collaborative efforts to allocate responsibility for various portions of the training, to coordinate efforts and to form new partnerships between the profession and academia to find and share the resources necessary to enhance their joint efforts;
4. The law schools and the profession should work together to find innovative and effective forms of education in the skills and values that are important for serving clients and the justice system well.
The charge of the Commission stems from a report of the American Bar Association’s Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar entitled Legal Education and Professional Development - An Educational Continuum (1992). This report, commonly referred to as the "MacCrate Report," was prepared by an ABA task force assigned to evaluate the skills and attitudes necessary to sustain and preserve the respect of the legal profession.1
The task force found that a "gap" exists between the formal training lawyers receive in law school and that which they receive both formally and informally at the practicing level.2
Responding to the findings of the MacCrate Report in 1994, the Supreme Court of Ohio and the Ohio State Bar Association convened the Ohio Conclave on Education for the Legal Profession to evaluate ways education can enhance the professional abilities of lawyers in Ohio.3
The Special Commission on the Education of Lawyers was then appointed by the Ohio Supreme Court to study the recommendations and comments that were produced by the Conclave.4
This report contains the findings and recommendations of the Special Commission.
II. THE MACCRATE REPORT
The MacCrate Report served as a starting point for the Conclave, providing basic principles and a framework for the Conclave’s evaluation of Ohio’s legal education system. Among those principles were the ideas that the education of a lawyer is a life-long continuum and that lawyers acquire a common set of skills and values as they progress along that continuum. The report also served as a valuable reference tool for the Special Commission in evaluating the Conclave’s recommendations. Perhaps the most valuable aspect of the MacCrate Report is its perspective. Previous studies had primarily focused on law schools and formal legal education. The MacCrate task force focused first on lawyers, rather than on law schools.5
The task force began by reviewing the demographics of lawyers.6
To identify trends and changes in the profession, it found that both the increase in the number of lawyers and in the demand for various legal services has led to increased specialization among lawyers.7
The task force concluded that such specialization and various other changes in the profession have led to a "gap" between the knowledge, skills, and values acquired in law school and those needed to effectively serve clients in a rapidly changing profession.8
The MacCrate Report identified the skills and values that were lacking and recommended ways that the bar itself, as a self-governing, professional organization, could narrow that gap.9
III. THE OHIO CONCLAVE ON EDUCATION FOR THE LEGAL PROFESSION
As a result of the MacCrate Report in the fall of 1994, the Supreme Court of Ohio and the Ohio State Bar Association convened a two-day conference in Columbus of academics, practitioners and judges to discuss the professional development of lawyers in Ohio and Ohio’s legal education system and to make recommendations designed to narrow the "gap" in this state.10
Conference attendees were appointed by local bar associations, the Ohio Judicial Conference, the Ohio State Bar Association, the Chief Judges for the Northern and Southern Districts, the Chief Judge for the Sixth Circuit, and the deans of Ohio’s law schools.11
From a series of small group discussion sessions the Conclave produced a set of suggestions on improving the professional development of lawyers in our state.12
Although the suggestions were neither ranked in importance nor "adopted" by the conclave, the suggestions have proven to be a valuable starting point for discussion. Among those suggestions was one that the Supreme Court of Ohio and the Ohio State Bar Association appoint a special commission, to study the Conclave recommendations and implement them where the commission finds them to be appropriate.13
Over the past two years, this Special Commission on the Education of Lawyers has been studying the suggestions of the Conclave. The Commission was divided into three subcommittees, each charged with evaluating a particular point along the educational continuum: The Law School Subcommittee explored issues related to pre-law school and law school studies, as well as collaborative efforts between law schools and the practicing bar. The Bar Exam Subcommittee evaluated the form, content, and effectiveness of the Ohio Bar Examination. The Mentoring Subcommittee evaluated post-law school educational issues such as mentoring programs and the Continuing Legal Education requirements. In this report each subcommittee submits its recommendations regarding its particular area of study.
IV. CURRENT STATUS, ORGANIZATION, AND REGULATION OF THE LEGAL PROFESSION IN OHIO
A. The Ohio Supreme Court and the Regulation of the Bar
The power to regulate and discipline the legal profession in Ohio is constitutionally vested in the Supreme Court of Ohio.14
Pursuant to that power, the Court has promulgated rules governing the admission and practice of law in Ohio, known as the Rules for the Government of the Bar. These rules set forth the basic educational requirements one must achieve before taking the Ohio bar examination. The rules specify the format of the exam.15
They also empower the Board of Bar Examiners to administer the examination.16
Finally, the Rules also govern attorney discipline17
and Continuing Legal Education (CLE).18
Unlike some states, Ohio does not have an integrated bar. That is, attorneys in Ohio are not required to be members of the State Bar Association in order to practice law. Rather, Ohio has an independent bar, which permits attorneys to obtain a license to practice law in Ohio without being a member of The Ohio State Bar Association.
B. Demographics of the Legal Profession in Ohio
As of January, 1997, there were 37,178 lawyers registered to practice in the state of Ohio.19
This translates into 300 citizens for every lawyer in Ohio20
, a ratio that is comparable to the national average of 320 citizens per attorney.21
In a 1996 survey of its members, the Ohio State Bar Association found that more than one-third (35.3%) of the respondents were in private practice, and that of these, more than sixty percent (61.4%) practiced in firms that had ten or fewer lawyers.22
More than one- fourth (25.7%) of the respondents who were private practitioners reported that they were either solo practitioners, or were in sole practice, but sharing office space.23
Additionally, according to a report of the National Association for Law Placement, 42% of job openings for 1993 law graduates in Ohio were in firms of two to ten lawyers.24
The MacCrate Commission found that more than seventy percent of practicing lawyers nationwide were in firms of ten or fewer lawyers.25
These smaller firms have fewer resources to dedicate to in-house skill and professional development training. As a consequence, many lawyers do not have access to transitional training. Fortunately, Ohio law schools to some extent have recognized the gap that can exist between the education and training received in law school and the skill training required for practicing law on behalf of a client. Many of these law schools have begun providing skills training courses to assist the transition from law student to practitioner.
C. Ohio’s Law Schools
There are nine law schools in Ohio.26
To determine the extent to which Ohio’s law schools teach the skills and values identified by the MacCrate Report and the Ohio Conclave, the Commission conducted a survey of all nine law schools.27
The findings indicate that most of Ohio’s law schools are now offering courses in identified skills training.
All nine of Ohio’s law schools offer courses in trial advocacy, appellate advocacy, and negotiation, while eight offer courses in pretrial advocacy and general dispute resolution. Seven schools offer courses in mediation, interviewing, and counseling, although only three offer a course in arbitration. Only one Ohio law school offers a course in law office management. All nine schools teach first-year legal research and writing, and eight have upper division writing requirements.
Other practice skills components of the law schools’ curricula include clinics and externships. Seven of the law schools operate a general civil clinic and seven operate a criminal clinic. Several schools have other civil clinics specializing in particular areas of the law. All nine schools offer externships in Federal District Court, while over two-thirds offer externships with the federal appellate courts or in the state common pleas and appellate systems. Five of the nine law schools offer externship opportunities with the county prosecutor’s or county public defender’s offices.
Ohio’s law schools have also instituted courses in values training. All nine Ohio law schools teach a course in professional responsibility and participate in the Volunteer Lawyers for the Poor program. Only one of the nine law schools employs an adjunct professor for teaching professional responsibility. Eight law schools also participate in the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program, and seven identify some other pro bono, public service, or public interest component in their curricula. Four of the law schools offer externships with Legal Aid.
Adjunct faculty are employed as a means of collaborating with the practicing bar in other areas. In fact, all nine law schools employ adjuncts for teaching trial practice, while eight employ adjuncts for teaching other practice skills courses and advanced seminars. All nine Ohio law schools partake in other collaborative efforts by engaging guest speakers and lecturers, hosting CLE programs and career workshops, and sponsoring moot court activities. While only three schools participate in mentoring programs, all nine encourage and facilitate faculty and student participation with the organized bar.
While the Commission’s findings from the survey are encouraging, the Commission recognizes areas needing improvement. Such areas will be discussed below in the Law School Subcommittee’s Interim Report and Recommendations, contained in Chapter Two.
D. The Continuing Legal Education Requirement
A lawyer’s education in Ohio does not end with graduation from law school and passage of the bar examination. Like most states, Ohio has a Continuing Legal Education or CLE requirement. The Supreme Court of Ohio mandates the CLE requirements through the Governing Rules, which state "the purpose [of the CLE rule] is to maintain and improve the quality of legal services in Ohio by requiring continuing legal education for Ohio attorneys."28
The Rule creates the Supreme Court Commission on Continuing Legal Education, which accredits the programs and activities that fulfill CLE requirements.29
Each attorney in Ohio is required to complete a minimum of twenty-four credit hours of CLE for each two-year reporting period.30
At least two of those hours must pertain to legal ethics and professional responsibility.31
Newly admitted attorneys are exempt from the CLE requirements during the calendar year of their admittance and the year immediately following.32
Any attorney who fails to fulfill the CLE requirements can be publicly reprimanded, placed on probation, or suspended from the practice of law.33
The CLE requirement has been, and continues to be, an integral part of the educational continuum of Ohio lawyers. Several changes to the CLE requirements were proposed by the Ohio Conclave and will be discussed below.
Lawyer specialization is now very close to implementation in Ohio. Lawyer specialists will have significant additional CLE requirements, both as a pre-requisite to certification and as a requirement for continuation of certification.
V. STRUCTURE OF THE COMMISSION’S REPORT
The remainder of this report is divided by chapters, each dedicated to discussing the recommendations of the several subcommittees that comprise the Commission. Each subcommittee studied respective provisions of the Conclave suggestions to determine the need and/or the feasibility for them. Each chapter begins with a recitation of those Conclave suggestions that relate to the subcommittee’s area(s) of study and are followed by the subcommittee’s interim report.
The Commission reviewed each of the Conclave’s recommendations. Many of the suggestions overlapped. The Commission chose not to prepare a detailed rationale for accepting or rejecting each suggestion. Instead, the Commission recommends implementing a limited number of the suggestions. The Commission believes other suggestions will deserve further study.
Some of the suggestions recommended by the Commission need specific action (e.g. an order of the Ohio Supreme Court). Other suggestions do not (e.g. the Commission urging law schools to continue focusing on diversity).