NEW YORK BAR- Skills Competency and Professional Values Requirement

The New York Court of Appeals has identified five pathways through which applicants for admission to practice may satisfy the requirement to “demonstrate that the applicant possesses the skills and values necessary to provide effective, ethical and responsible legal services in this State.”

This requirement applies to

  • JD students commencing their studies after August 1, 2016
  • LL.M. students commencing their studies after August 1, 2018.​

WashULaw anticipates that JD students will satisfy this Skills Competency Requirement under Pathway 1. Pathway 1 allows an applicant to satisfy the skills competency and professional values requirement by submitting a certification from the applicant’s law school confirming that (1) the law school has developed a plan identifying and incorporating into its curriculum the skills and professional values that, in the school’s judgment, are required for its graduates’ basic competency and ethical participation in the legal profession, and has made this plan publicly available on the law school’s website; and (2) the applicant has acquired sufficient competency in those skills and sufficient familiarity with those values.

WashULaw JD students are introduced to a core set of skills and professional values as part of the standard required in the curriculum. Focus is placed on student learning outcomes that cover the areas of substantive knowledge and procedural law, lawyering skills, and proper professional and ethical responsibilities to clients and the legal system:

Learning Outcomes

  1. Knowledge and Understanding of Substantive and Procedural Law — Students will know and understand appropriate substantive and procedural laws, including in the core areas of civil procedure, constitutional law, contracts, criminal law, property, and torts.
  2. Legal Analysis, Reasoning and Problem Solving – Students will be able to identify relevant legal and policy issues, apply case law, statutes and rules, and weigh and recommend appropriate outcomes or legal actions.
  3. Written and Oral Communication – Students will be able to analyze legal problems, construct legal arguments, and communicate effectively and ethically with courts, lawyers, and clients regarding legal issues. They will draft legal documents, including objective memoranda and persuasive briefs, and communicate orally in a well-reasoned, organized, and professional manner appropriate to the audience and purpose.
  4. Legal Research – Students will be able to identify major primary and secondary legal sources, understand the appropriate use of sources, and develop an effective research strategy for locating, organizing and updating the sources needed to resolve a legal issue.
  5. Professionalism and Ethics – Students will be able to identify ethical issues in a variety of situations that lawyers face in practice, determine applicable rules of professional conduct, and apply the rules to ensure compliance with professional and ethical responsibilities.
  6. Professional Skills – Students will be able to demonstrate professional skills needed for effective and ethical participation as a member of the legal profession. These skills will include negotiation and may also include interviewing, counseling, fact development and analysis, pretrial and trial practice, document drafting, conflict resolution, organization and management of legal work, collaboration, cultural competency, and self-evaluation.

 Fulfillment of Requirement

As part of the curriculum and in developing competence and ethical participation in the legal profession, first-year students take three doctrinal courses a semester, plus Legal Practice and Legal Research Methodologies. Each semester, first-year students will have one doctrinal course in a small section of approximately 45 students. Legal Practice and Legal Research Methodologies are also taught in small groups and in workshop-style classes by teachers who provide individualized feedback on each student’s research and writing projects. The Negotiation class runs over Intersession (the week before the Spring Semester starts). It may also be offered as a weekend course immediately before Fall classes begin.

Upper-level students fulfill the remaining 56 credit hours by tailoring their studies to fit their individual interests. Students may take a variety of courses to meet the upper-class writing requirement, ethics requirement, and applied lawyering / professional skills experiential units requirements. These experiential courses span across the variety of legal practices and build upon the skills taught in the first-year curriculum. Further, the experiential courses immerse students in an additional set of core skills and professional values. Faculty members and administrators provide guidance about course selection.

ABA Standard 310 requires “not less than one hour of classroom or direct faculty instruction and two hours of out-of-class student work per week or the equivalent amount of work over a different amount of time” for each credit hour awarded. Each course at the school is designed to meet this requirement. All existing courses meet this requirement, and all new course proposals must include a statement demonstrating that the number of units of credit to be awarded is consistent with the requirements of ABA Standard 310. WashULaw will monitor compliance with this requirement through a review of course descriptions and syllabi by the Vice Dean for Academic Affairs.

WashULaw assesses whether students have attained sufficient competency in the core competencies thorough our grading system, as permitted by Rule 520.18(1)(ii).

Prior to applying to the New York Bar, all students should review carefully the information provided by the New York Court of Appeals as well as the FAQs.