ABA: Law Schools Now Required to Give Anti-Bias Training
U.S. law students will soon be required to learn about bias, racism, and cross-cultural competency.
Reuters reports that the ABA’s House of Delegates approved changes to its law school accreditation standards Monday, including a mandate requiring law schools to provide at least two bias trainings to students throughout their legal education. The mandate could be in place as soon as the next academic year.
WIDESPREAD SUPPORT AMONG LAW SCHOOLS
The mandate comes at the request of 150 law deans from schools such as Columbia Law, Georgetown Law, and Harvard Law. In a signed 2020 letter to the ABA’s Council of the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar, the law deans urged the council to consider the training requirement as part of a wider anti-racism movement in legal education.
“Preparing law students to be lawyers requires that they should be educated with respect to bias, cultural awareness, and anti-racism,” the law deans write in the letter. “Such skills are essential parts of professional competence, legal practice, and being a lawyer. We believe that every law school should develop such training and education for its students.”
National Conference of Bar Examiners trustee Hulett “Bucky” Askew says that such widespread support among law schools is rare.
“I hope you recognize how remarkable it is that 75% of the deans of the law schools in America asked for this standard,” he says in his comments to the House of Delegates. “The deans’ expression of support represents the depth and breadth of concern on this issue.”
CRITICS CALL THE PROPOSAL ‘TOO VAGUE’
While the standard doesn’t specifically tell law schools how to provide bias training, it does offer a few examples. Law schools will be able to fulfill the bias training requirement during orientation, guest lectures, courses on racism and bias in the law, and other “educational experiences.”
Still, some critics say the bias training proposal is too vague.
“It is more constructive to foster spaces that encourage the free exchange of ideas than to impose consensus through mandatory training and courses,” the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education said in a comment it submitted.
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