Ethics Requirements for Bar Admission

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Long title: 
Does legal education need to give higher priority to teaching ethics and professional judgment? If so, what can be the role for professional bodies and regulatory agencies in promoting such change?
Date: 
Fri, Oct 5th 9:30 am - 12:30 pm
Conference location: 
Dublin, Ireland
Sponsor organization(s) or institution(s): 
International Bar Associations: Academic & Professional Development Committee, Bar Issues Commission, Professional Ethics Committee
Sponsor(s)' contact information: 
Session Co-Chairs: Nigel Duncan, City Law School, London Clark D. Cunningham, Georgia State University College of Law, Atlanta (USA)

Does legal education need to give higher priority to teaching ethics and professional judgment? If so, what can be the role for professional bodies and regulatory agencies in promoting such change? (9.30am, Friday 5 October 2012)

Joint session with the Academic and Professional Development Committee, the Bar Issues Commission and the Professional Ethics Committee

Over the past five years an increasing number of professional bodies and regulatory agencies around the world have focused attention on the role of academic education in preparing future lawyers for ethical decisionmaking and professional responsibility. For example, in Canada, entry to practice in common law jurisdictions will soon require completion of a law school course in ethics, as the result of a comprehensive report and set of recommendations by the Federation of Law Societies of Canada. An influential report by Kim Economides and Justine Rogers commissioned by the Law Society of England and Wales recommends a similar requirement for qualification as a solicitor (www.teachinglegalethics.org/economides-rogers-report). Australia and the United States, which already have such a requirement, are in the process of adopting more ambitious learning outcomes for legal education in this area. For a summary of these initiatives, see Nigel Duncan, Clark Cunningham, Tony King & Paul Maharg, When and how should legal ethics be learned? (www.teachinglegalethics.org/when-learn-ethics)

In November 2011 the IBA Council approved Policy Guidelines for Training and Education of the Legal Profession that had been developed in collaboration by working groups from both the Bar Issues Commission and the PPID. These new IBA Guidelines call for bar associations and law societies in all jurisdictions to increase the emphasis on ethical education in the preparation for practice, including using their role in the approval of new applicants for admission to the practice of law. For the full text of the Guidelines and further background information, see www.teachinglegalethics.org/iba-education-guidelines

The Academic & Professional Development Committee is engaged in two PPID-funded projects to collect and disseminate information about best practices for developing ethical decisionmaking and professional judgment, not only during the academic preparation for practice but throughout the professional career.

The session at the IBA Conference in Dublin will draw upon all the above developments to explore in an interactive program two interlocked issues that are of profound importance to the legal profession. (1) If law schools are to be places for development of the capacity for ethical decisionmaking and professional judgment, what should be the content, methods and goals of such education? (2) Considering the dual role of the law school as an academic institution and a critical component of preparation for professional life, what are the potential benefits and risks of greater involvement by professional bodies and regulatory agencies in the shaping of law school education?

The speakers include:
Peter Koves (Hungary), who chaired the Training Working Group of the Bar Issues Commission that developed the Policy Guidelines for Training and Education of the Legal Profession, and Mikiko Otani (Japan) who also served as a member of that Working Group
John Hunter (Canada), President of the Federation of Law Societies of Canada, who chaired the Federation’s task force on the common law degree that developed the current requirements for teaching legal ethics
Tony King (UK), who chaired the Education & Training Committee, Law Society of England & Wales, which commissioned the Economides-Rogers Report and has been actively working to implement its recommendations
Elizabeth Seshadri (India), who is Vice-Chair of the IBA Professional Ethics Committee
Tahir Mamman (Nigeria), who is Director-General Council of the Nigerian Law School and a member of the Nigerian Council of Legal Education

Session Co-Chairs are:
Clark Cunningham (USA), Director of the National Institute for Teaching Ethics & Professionalism, who advised in the development of new learning outcomes for ethics and professional judgment in both Australia and the USA
Nigel Duncan (UK), Editor of the Law Teacher: the International Journal of Legal Education and Director of Teaching Legal Ethics - UK, who is the initiator of the website www.teachinglegalethics.org

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