Shepard offering recommendations for changing legal education to ABA

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Retired Indiana Chief Justice Randall Shepard will present the final findings and recommendations of the American Bar Association Task Force on the Future of Legal Education to the ABA House of Delegates Monday.

The task force has been working since mid-2012 and members have spoken publicly about its ideas prior to the submission of its final report in January. It had earlier released two preliminary drafts of the study and hosted open discussions as well as made presentations of its conclusions.

Members of the committee came from academia, private practice, the courts and other legal entities.

“I’ve been very encouraged by the fact that a committee with many different opinions on the topic was able to come to such a level of agreement,” Shepard said. While he noted everyone on the task force did not agree with every word in the final report, he was unsure after the early meetings that the members could reach any level of agreement.

The task force recommended a rethinking of how lawyers are trained and offered comprehensive suggestions for change.

In particular it called for a modification of accreditation standards so law schools could innovate with new curriculum and programs. Also, it questioned whether the course of study for a J.D. needs to be three years.

Maintaining that other legal organizations also share in the responsibility for teaching lawyers, the committee included recommendations for bar associations, law firms, and the courts. It urged the entities to adopt a uniform bar examination and to reduce the amount of study required to sit for the bar.

The task force also recommended allowing non-lawyers to offer limited legal services as a way to improve access to justice.

Initially, the committee had planned to tender a series of resolutions for the House of Delegates to consider. However, Shepard said as the workgroup got closer to finishing its work, it realized the report was written from the perspective of speaking directly to the institutions and the profession. So instead of investing the extra time to reshape the recommendations into resolutions, the task force decided to spend the remaining months of its mandate to make presentations to various players and hope for prompt action.

Shepard conceded not offering resolutions might weaken the proposals put forth by the committee. He has always thought getting a resolution approved by the House of Delegates was a plus, but he said the task force is hopeful the power of the ideas will carry the weight that is due them.   



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  1. This is ridiculous. Most JDs not practicing law don't know squat to justify calling themselves a lawyer. Maybe they should try visiting the inside of a courtroom before they go around calling themselves lawyers. This kind of promotional BS just increases the volume of people with JDs that are underqualified thereby dragging all the rest of us down likewise.

  2. I think it is safe to say that those Hoosier's with the most confidence in the Indiana judicial system are those Hoosier's who have never had the displeasure of dealing with the Hoosier court system.

  3. I have an open CHINS case I failed a urine screen I have since got clean completed IOP classes now in after care passed home inspection my x sister in law has my children I still don't even have unsupervised when I have been clean for over 4 months my x sister wants to keep the lids for good n has my case working with her I just discovered n have proof that at one of my hearing dcs case worker stated in court to the judge that a screen was dirty which caused me not to have unsupervised this was at the beginning two weeks after my initial screen I thought the weed could have still been in my system was upset because they were suppose to check levels n see if it was going down since this was only a few weeks after initial instead they said dirty I recently requested all of my screens from redwood because I take prescriptions that will show up n I was having my doctor look at levels to verify that matched what I was prescripted because dcs case worker accused me of abuseing when I got my screens I found out that screen I took that dcs case worker stated in court to judge that caused me to not get granted unsupervised was actually negative what can I do about this this is a serious issue saying a parent failed a screen in court to judge when they didn't please advise

  4. I have a degree at law, recent MS in regulatory studies. Licensed in KS, admitted b4 S& 7th circuit, but not to Indiana bar due to political correctness. Blacklisted, nearly unemployable due to hostile state action. Big Idea: Headwinds can overcome, esp for those not within the contours of the bell curve, the Lego Movie happiness set forth above. That said, even without the blacklisting for holding ideas unacceptable to the Glorious State, I think the idea presented above that a law degree open many vistas other than being a galley slave to elitist lawyers is pretty much laughable. (Did the law professors of Indiana pay for this to be published?)

  5. Joe, you might want to do some reading on the fate of Hoosier whistleblowers before you get your expectations raised up.