New Bar Exam Category…Access to Justice!
The amazing Richard Zorza gives us this:
The Massachusetts Commission has proposed to the state Board of Bar Examiners that access to justice issues be added to the bar exam. Memo can be found here.
As the Memo puts it, after detailing the access crisis and the fact that more lawyers will, for labor market reasons, be involved in low and middle income practice:
As the Commission’s Mission Statement reflects, the Commission’s goal is to achieve equal justice for all persons in the Commonwealth, and it strives to accomplish this goal by providing and improving access to justice for those unable to afford full representation by counsel. An Access to Justice topic on the Bar Examination therefore would include substantive areas of law in which there exists a high incidence of unmet legal needs, such as landlord-tenant (evictions and foreclosures), domestic relations, debt collection and consumer protection, bankruptcy and public benefits. The topic would also include ethical issues that arise where not all litigants are fully represented by counsel, such as under Massachusetts Rules of Professional Conduct… Finally, the topic would include due process doctrines related to fair hearings, the constitutional and statutory underpinnings of, and limits to, the civil right to counsel in Massachusetts, and the law relating to attorneys’ fees and fee-shifting statutes.
The Memo even suggests bar exam topics!
I hope the State Bar Task Force on Admissions Regulation Reform is planning to adopt similar changes like this — because law school curricula in general will surely follow along. Moreover, all law schools may find this approach opens more ways to linking the teaching of professional responsibility with poverty law.
Marge Shultz! Heather Rosing! Margaret Dalton! And all the rest of you wonderful people interested in creating a better universe of lawyers — what do you think? — are you listening?!