Beginning in Fall 2023, the American Bar Association will require law schools to have a plan to comply with Amended ABA Standard 303(b) and 303(c) in their program of legal education. NALP has assembled a national work group to develop best practices and provide resources to law schools to implement Amended ABA Standard 303(b) and (c).
This overview includes:
A Brief Explanation of the Amended ABA Standard 303
Standard 303(b) has been revised to add that “a law school shall provide substantial opportunities to students for … (3) the development of a professional identity.” And a new subsection (c) has been added to Standard 303, providing that “[a] law school shall provide education to law students on bias, cross-cultural competency, and racism: (1) at the start of the program of legal education, and (2) at least once again before graduation.”
Professional identity focuses on the special obligations that lawyers have to their clients and society, and should involve an intentional exploration of the values, guiding principles, and well-being practices considered foundational to successful legal practice. See ABA Interpretation 303-5. Law students must also become familiar with values and responsibilities of the legal profession including the importance of cross-cultural competence to professionally responsible representation and the obligation of lawyers to promote a justice system that provides equal access and eliminates bias, discrimination, and racism in the law. See ABA Interpretation 303-6.
Implementing Amended ABA Standard 303(b) and (c) should entail a whole law school approach both in and outside of the curriculum. The development of a professional identity and education on bias, cross-cultural competence, and racism can be taught in the classroom as well as through institutional leadership, one-on-one coaching and mentoring, and legal work experiences. Career Service offices have an especially important role to play in training and educating our law students in these areas.
Five Steps to Learn about Amended ABA Standard 303 and Implement It Within Your School
1. Educate yourself on Amended ABA Standard 303. Start by reading ABA Standard 303 and the accompanying interpretations available on the ABA website. Also, check out NALP's helpful primer Revised ABA Standards 303 (b) and (c) by Louis D. Bilionis and Neil W. Hamilton in the November 2022 issue of NALP Bulletin+/PDQ.
2. Assess the work you already do that meets the requirements of Amended ABA Standard 303(b) and 303(c). Many law schools are already engaging in curricular and extra-curricular initiatives that meet the requirements of Amended ABA Standard 303(b) and 303(c).
For example, consider whether your pre-orientation or orientation programs, alumni mentoring or peer advising opportunities, mock interviews, career and practitioner panels, diversity, equity and inclusion programming, or one-on-one counseling and advising offer your law students opportunities for self-reflection, exploration of the values of the legal profession, identification of their individual values and goals, or assessment or development of key skills. These activities and many more are components of professional identity formation and a part of the work of a Career Service office.
3. Recognize that law student professional identity and education on bias, cross-cultural competence, and racism requires a whole law school approach. Share and collaborate.
4. Connect with other law schools. Other career service leaders are also supporting the implementation of Amended ABA Standard 303(b) and Standard 303(c) in their law schools. Connect with others who are also doing this work. Engage with NALP sections like the Section on Law Student Professional Development or the Section on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. Ask questions and share ideas about the implementation of these standards on NALP Connect.
5. Access recommended resources. There are many resources available to support career service professionals, law school administrators, faculty, and students in the development of law student professional identity and education of law students on bias, cross-cultural competence, and racism. The list below is a helpful start. Review these resources, share with others who might be interested, and send your resource recommendations to NALP’s ABA Section 303 Professional Identity Compliance Work Group.
Helpful Resources on Amended ABA Standard 303
Amended ABA Standard 303 Work Group and Call to CSOs to Share Information
NALP formed the ABA Section 303 Professional Identity Compliance Work Group to assess how NALP can support law school member organizations in complying with Amended ABA Standard 303 requiring schools, among other things, to “provide substantial opportunities to students for the development of a professional identity,” required by Fall 2023. The Work Group will be developing best practices and resources to assist member institutions in working with students, faculty, and administration to ensure compliance with Amended ABA Standard 303. This information will be available to member schools beginning in Summer 2023 and throughout the 2023-2024 academic year.
If you have questions about Amended ABA Standard 303 or suggestions for tools and resources that might be useful for the Work Group to consider in its work, please contact Work Group Chair Leanne Fuith (firstname.lastname@example.org).
The members of NALP’s ABA Section 303 Professional Identity Compliance Work Group are Sarah Beznoska (Cleveland State University), Robert Birrenkott (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill), Kate Eklund (University of California School of Law), Leanne Fuith (Work Group Chair, Mitchell Hamline School of Law), Jennifer Henfey (Board Representative to Work Group, Villanova University), Christopher Neal (Temple University School of Law), Erika Pont (George Washington University), and Robin Thorner (St. Mary’s School of Law).