University of New Hampshire (UNH) Franklin Pierce School of Law Certification of Competence in Skills and Professional Values for Applicants for Admission to the New York Bar

On December 16, 2015, New York announced a change its rules on bar admissions: the addition of a new “skills competency component . . . designed to accommodate New York’s diverse bar applicant pool.”[1] New York is now the “first state to require applicants to the bar to separately demonstrate that they have had essential practical skills training and gained sufficient understanding of professional values.”[2]

This skills competency component requires that bar applicants who (1) began JD programs after August 1, 2016 or (2) began qualifying LLM programs (if a foreign-trained attorneys) after August 1, 2018 use one of five pathways to demonstrate to the NY bar that they “possess the requisite skills and professional values for effective, ethical and responsible practice.”[3] For both cohorts (1 & 2 described above), the requirement goes into effect beginning with the graduating class of 2019.

In order for our graduates to obtain certification under pathway 1 (set forth at 520.18(a)(1)), the UNH Law faculty must undertake 3 steps: “(1) develop and adopt an inventory of the skills and professional values that the school views as essential for ‘basic competence and ethical participation in the legal profession’; (2) identify specific courses that students can take to acquire each of those requisite skills and professional values; and (3) for each student who seeks to be certified for admission to practice in New York, determine whether that student has taken the requisite courses and has received a ‘grade [that the school deems to be] sufficient to demonstrate competence’ in those courses.”[4]

As set forth in UNH Law’s learning outcomes for our JD and LLM programs,[5] UNH Law curricula equip graduates to engage in ethical, professional, thoughtful, and successful law practice. Indeed, through our nationally-recognized practice-driven approach to legal education,[6] our students demonstrate their practice-readiness while they are still studying with us. They also demonstrate a strong public service ethic.  Notably, from 2015-2018, our JD students “contributed roughly 146,108 hours of volunteer legal work to more than 100 state and local governments, agencies, and nonprofits in New Hampshire . . . through summer employment, legal residency, and clinic programs. More than 72,000 of those hours have come from 181 rising second- and third-year law students volunteering their time to organizations that deliver legal service to the state’s citizens.”[7]

Our JD degree offers students the opportunity to customize the area(s) in which they develop these broader skills and values. JD students may obtain certificates in Intellectual Property (IP) law, Health Law, or Sports & Entertainment Law, although they are not required to do so. Our LLM programs that offer degree-holders the opportunity to seek NY bar admission under 520.6(3) are in IP and Commerce & Technology Law. These programs are focused on the study of IP and technology law for the information age but built on the same scaffolding of core learning outcomes as our JD program.

The table below identifies the inventory of “skills and professional values” that UNH Law believes are “essential for ‘basic competence and ethnical participation in the legal profession.’” This inventory (“Skills/Values” column) is grounded in our JD and LLM learning outcomes, which in turn are anchored in a set of core competencies around which the UNH Law faculty have long shaped their syllabi. The courses that permit students to acquire each Skill/Value are listed in the “Course(s) in which Acquired” column; this course list will be updated as necessary to reflect relevant adjustments to curricular offerings. This table captures steps 1 and 2 listed above; step 3 is delegated to by our Registrar’s Office, which will review the transcript of each student who seeks certification under pathway 1 from UNH Law. Students will be deemed to have satisfied pathway 1 if they receive passing grades (or Satisfactory, if graded on the Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory scale or Pass/Honors/High Honors, if graded on the Pass/Fail/Honors/High Honors scale) in a minimum of one course for 8 of the following 10 Skills/Values listed in the table below. The same course may be used to satisfy more than one Skill/Value.

Skills/Values Course(s) in which Acquired
Identify, comprehend, apply substantive & procedural law relevant to solve a given legal issue. All doctrinal courses.
Understand and be informed by diversity of contexts and viewpoints on a legal issue when solving it.

All doctrinal courses required to complete the JD degree.[8]

American Legal Process and Analysis I and II

All UNH Law Clinics (Civil, Criminal, IP, ITTI, Immigration).

Legal Residencies

All courses fulfilling the upper-level experiential learning requirement.[9]

Present material effectively in written format for analytical and advocacy purposes across a range of settings.

Legal Analysis and Writing I and II

American Legal Process and Analysis I and II

All courses satisfying the upper-level writing requirement.[10]

Fundamentals of Lawyering

Fundamentals of Intellectual Property

Judicial Opinion Drafting

Writing for Practice

Contract Drafting

Present material effectively in oral format for analytical and advocacy purposes across a range of settings.

Legal Analysis and Writing I and II

American Legal Process and Analysis I and II

Moot Court

All courses fulfilling the upper-level experiential learning requirement.[11]

Fundamentals of Lawyering

Fundamentals of Intellectual Property

Trial Advocacy

Pretrial Advocacy

Appellate Advocacy

Act in ethical, respectful, self-aware manner with all other stakeholders.

All UNH Law Clinics (Civil, Criminal, IP, ITTI, Immigration).

Legal Residencies

Professional Responsibility

The Legal Profession

In-House Counsel

Navigate and assess relevant legal authorities using appropriate tools.

Legal Research and Information Literacy

Graduate Legal Research and Information Literacy

All law journals.

Make productive contributions to strengthening justice system through opening access for people facing societal barriers or addressing other systemic concerns within the justice system.

All UNH Law Clinics (Civil, Criminal, IP, ITTI, Immigration).

Civil Procedure

Constitutional Law

Criminal Procedure

Criminal Law

Administrative Process

Access to Justice

Professional Responsibility

Civil Rights Litigation

Federal Courts

Collaborate toward goals in focused, productive manner.

All UNH Law Clinics (Civil, Criminal, IP, ITTI, Immigration).

Legal Residencies

Fundamentals of Lawyering

Fundamentals of Intellectual Property

Moot Court

All law journals.

Writing for Practice

Remedies

DWS Negotiations and ADR

Dispute Resolution

Negotiations Workshop

Patent Practice and Procedure I and II

Take trustworthy and responsive action upon clients’ matters.

All UNH Law Clinics (Civil, Criminal, IP, ITTI, Immigration).

Legal Residencies

Technology Licensing

Patent Practice and Procedure I and II

DWS Negotiations and ADR

Dispute Resolution

Implement, iterate upon, and evaluate the results from a strategic plan for information gathering.

Legal Research and Information Literacy

Graduate Legal Research and Information Literacy

[1] Press Release from NY Court of Appeals, available at http://ww2.nycourts.gov/sites/default/files/document/files/2018-05/PR15_... (Dec. 16, 2015).

[2] FAQ from NY Court System, available at http://www.nycourts.gov/ctapps/news/skills.pdf

(Jan. 2018).

[3] Press Release.

[4] FAQ from NY Court System, question 14.

[5] UNH Law, Learning Outcomes, available at https://law.unh.edu/sites/default/files/media/2018/09/unh_law_slos_2018.pdf.

[6] http://nationaljurist.com/law-schools/university-new-hampshire-school-law.

[7] UNH Today, UNH Law Provides Boost to Work Force, Improves Access to Justice in NH, available at https://www.unh.edu/unhtoday/2018/02/unh-law-provides-boost-work-force-i....

[8] Set forth in UNH Law Academic Rule I, available at https://catalog.unh.edu/law/juris-doctor-academic-rules-regulations/requ....

[9] List posted by Registrar’s Office for each academic year at https://law.unh.edu/academics/degrees-certificates/writing-experiential-....

[10] List posted by Registrar’s Office for each academic year at https://law.unh.edu/academics/degrees-certificates/writing-experiential-....

[11] List posted by Registrar’s Office for each academic year at https://law.unh.edu/academics/degrees-certificates/writing-experiential-...