Thursday, May 6, 2021
Karen Sloan (Law.com), ABA Mulls Racism, Bias Training Accreditation Requirement for Law Schools:
Law schools would be required to train students in bias, racism, and cross-cultural competency under a proposal being considered by the American Bar Association arm that oversees legal education.
That proposed change to the ABA’s law school accreditation standards is part of a larger push to incorporate professional identity formation into the curriculum requirements—that is, mandating that schools devote more time and attention to helping students understand what it means to be a lawyer, not just how to think like one.
The concept of adding professional identity formation to the curriculum requirements has thus far been well-received by legal educators, even if they have differing ideas on how best to define and write the revised standard. The ABA’s Council of the Section of Legal Education and Admission to the Bar received 35 comments from the public on a preliminary draft of the proposal that added a professional identity formation requirement to Standard 303, which lays out mandated courses. The council’s Standards Review Committee has since proposed additional changes, including the requirement that students receive instruction in bias, cross-cultural competency, and racism both at the beginning of their legal studies and later on during their law school careers. The council will decide whether to circulate those changes for notice and comment when it meets virtually on May 14. ...
The bias training requirement is just one of several key changes to the law school standards that the council is set to consider next week. The proposal to require professional identity development grew out of the perception—right or wrong—that professionalism has been on the decline in the law. ...
The council is also slated to consider a new requirement that law school provide students with information on “well-being resources.” That proposal also calls for the law schools to work to remove the stigma of accessing mental health and well-being supports on campus and within the legal profession. If approved, it would be the first time that student well-being is covered in the law school accreditation standards.