New York Bar and Certification of Professional Skills Competency for JD Students

Students who plan to sit for the New York Bar Exam should be aware that Section 520.18 of the NY Court of Appeals Rules for the Admission of Attorneys and Counselors at Law requires an applicant who seeks admission to the New York Bar to establish that he or she “possesses the skills and values necessary to provide effective, ethical and responsible legal services” in the state of New York.  This requirement is applicable to students who begin their program of study after August 1, 2016.

Under this “skills competency” component of the New York bar, applicants must satisfy one of five subdivisions or pathways.  Section 520.18(1) [also known as Pathway One] allows an applicant to submit certification from the law school confirming that:

(a) the law school has developed a plan identifying and incorporating into its curriculum the skills and professional values that, in the school’s judgment, are required for its graduates’ basic competence and ethical participation in the legal profession, as required by American Bar Association Standards and Rules of Procedure for the Approval of Law Schools Standard 302(b), (c) and (d), and has made this plan publicly available on the law school’s website; and (b) the applicant has acquired sufficient competency in those skills and sufficient familiarity with those values.

The Charleston School of Law has adopted the following Learning Outcomes:

I. Graduates shall demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the fundamental principles of the substantive and procedural law regarded as necessary to effective, competent, and responsible participation in the legal profession.

II. Graduates shall demonstrate the ability to identify, understand, and resolve ethical and professional issues in light of the ethical principles and rules that govern the legal profession.

III. Graduates shall demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the law as a public profession calling for the performance of pro bono services.

IV. Graduates shall demonstrate the ability to conduct legal research and analysis; to engage in legal reasoning and problem solving; and to effectively communicate both orally and in writing.

V. Graduates shall demonstrate competency in professional skills necessary for effective participation as a member of the legal profession.

Therefore, for students who seek certification for the New York Bar pursuant to Pathway One, the Charleston School of Law will certify a student as having basic competence and the ability to participate ethically in the legal profession if the student:

  1. Successfully completes the School’s Orientation Course, Lawyering Fundamentals, for first-year students;
  2. Successfully completes the following graduation requirements:

a.       The six-credit hour first-year Legal Research, Analysis and Writing course, which includes simulations in trial and appellate advocacy, as well as writing trial and appellate level briefs;

b.      The Upper-Level Writing Requirement, which requires, under faculty supervision, the completion of a substantial scholarly research paper;

c.       The Skills Requirement, which can be satisfied by taking at least one 2-credit hour course that is designated as satisfying the skills requirement;

d.      The Drafting Course Requirement, which can be satisfied by taking at least one 2 or 3-credit hour designated “drafting” course, which is a course with the primary objective to instruct in how to successfully draft legal documents;

e.       The Legal Skills Course, which is a two-credit hour course designed to develop skills necessary for the practice of law, including but not limited to: reviewing, understanding, and synthesizing discovery responses; drafting client letters; drafting persuasive and objective briefs; and performing variations of these tasks under the timed conditions required by the Multi-State Performance Test;

f.       The Professional Responsibility Course, which is a two-credit hour course having the following goals: (a) to teach the basic rules and doctrines of professional responsibility that students will need to practice law and to pass the Multistate Professional Responsibility examination; and, (b) to enable students to think critically about what it means to be a professional responsible lawyer.

g.      The Professionalism Series Requirement, which is designed to present students with a wide array of speakers who will provide students with real-world insight into the role of professionalism in the field of law; and,

h.      The Pro Bono Requirement, which is designed to instill within students a commitment to public service. [Please note: pursuant to Section 520.16 of the NY Court of Appeals Rules for the Admission of Attorneys and Counselors at Law applicants must have completed at least 50 hours of qualifying pro bono service prior to filing an application for admission with the appropriate Appellate Division department of the Supreme Court.]

The Charleston School of Law will certify a transfer student if he or she has successfully completed at least three credit hours of legal research and writing courses either prior to coming to the law school, or while a student at the law school, as well as successfully completing the above listed graduation requirements.

The Charleston School of Law will consider successful compliance with the above requirements to be ample evidence that the student has demonstrated compliance with Pathway One of Section 520.18 of the NY Court of Appeals Rules for the Admission of Attorneys and Counselors at Law.

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