Thursday, May 13, 2021
Gillian Chadwick (Washburn), (Un)supervised Student Practice, 58 San Diego L. Rev. __ (2021):
Law student practice is a powerful tool that must be wielded judiciously. At its best, student practice coalesces a student’s professional values and prepares that student to become a competent, compassionate, and confident lawyer. However, the current regime of state student practice rules, rooted in the American Bar Association’s (ABA) model rule, undermines the integrity of student practice in several crucial ways. In most states, students are authorized to practice law without meaningful oversight by law schools, and supervisors need not complete any special training. Supervisors are not universally required to accompany students to court, even when students are acting as prosecutors. Some student practice rules still fail to account for the wide range of work that is done by students in many law school clinics, particularly in transactional clinics. Financial incentives skew the focus on student learning in states that allow students to not only represent wealthy individuals but also charge for their services, all outside the oversight of law school programs.
This piece examines these problems with existing state student practice rules and proposes rule reform in light of the goals and purpose of student practice.