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The New York City Bar Association’s Council on the Profession was formed to carry out the recommendations in the 2013 report of the City Bar’s Task Force on New Lawyers in a Changing Profession. Those recommendations sought to address difficulties faced by law students and new lawyers, including lack of practical experience, diminished job prospects and rising debt. In 2016, the Council saw major successes in all of its active projects.
This summer, the ABA adopted a rules change that permits students to receive academic credit for paid legal externships. Lifting the prohibition was one of the Task Force’s recommendations, as it will increase the availability of supervised hands-on experience for students and permit the expansion of law school “Bridge to Practice” programs with the private sector.
The Council—which is co-chaired by Mark Morril, who also chaired the Task Force, and Hon. Elizabeth Stong—was also active this spring in the launch of the Court Square Law Project, a joint effort of the City Bar and CUNY School of Law (with the support of 19 law firms). Court Square is piloting a business model to provide civil legal services to persons of moderate means while training new lawyers in how to set up their own practices following a two-year residency.
In July, New York State administered the Uniform Bar Exam for the first time, which was strongly supported by the Council. Urging its adoption, the Council noted the UBE will significantly enhance opportunities for new lawyers to find employment wherever it is available.
Finally, the City Bar’s New Lawyer Institute, which the Council helped establish to equip new lawyers with the skills and knowledge they need to advance their careers, will soon begin its third year of operations.
Moving forward, the Council will continue to work on the implementation of the Court Square Law Project and will expand into other topics of broad interest to the profession as a whole. It will review professional rules that may no longer be in the best interest of the public or the profession, and will develop programs to enhance opportunities and training for young lawyers and to deploy the coming wave of retiring lawyers.
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