American Bar Association requires law schools to educate students on 'bias, cross-cultural competency, and racism'

According to the ABA, future lawyers have an obligation 'to work to eliminate racism in the legal profession.'

The ABA has also added categories such as “ethnicity,” “gender identity or expression” and “military status” to language that already included race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, age, and disability.

The American Bar Association House of Delegates has approved new law school accreditation standards at the 2022 ABA Midyear Meeting, of which two amendments were focused on “diversity.”

In order to eliminate bias and enhance diversity, the ABA’s amended Standard 303(c) requires that “a law school shall provide education 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.”

To fulfill this requirement, “Law schools must demonstrate that all law students are required to participate in a substantial activity designed to reinforce the skill of cultural competency and their obligation as future lawyers to work to eliminate racism in the legal profession.”

[RELATED: Cardozo School of Law requires students to take course on 'race and racism' to graduate]

The ABA has also added categories such as “ethnicity,” “gender identity or expression” and “military status” to language in Standard 205, which deals with Non-Discrimination and Equality of Opportunity.

Categories that were already enumerated in Standard 205 include race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, age, and disability.

Additionally, Standards 507 and 508, which deal with student loan programs and student support services, respectively, have been amended to require law schools to provide students with loan counseling and information or services related to mental health, including substance-use disorders.

[RELATED: American Bar Association considers anti-bias training mandate for law schools]

The ABA Standards Committee released a memo on May 7, 2021, as previously reported by Campus Reform, laying out a litany of proposed changes, which included those implemented on Feb. 14, 2022, but further included a proposal to amend Standard 206 to replace the word “minority” with “people of color.”

The committee also recommended “providing need-based or diversity scholarships to students,” “setting and publishing goals related to diversity and inclusion,” or “creating pool and yield-building efforts and initiatives designed to attract and matriculate students from underrepresented groups.”

In a Feb. 10 article for RealClearPolitics, Cornell Law Professor and founder of Legal Insurrection William Jacobson co-authored an article with Johana E. Markind, alleging that the ABA is “forcing wokeness on law schools,” and says that “the ABA has become partisan, using its power to promote an ideological agenda.”

“The liberal bias of the ABA itself is not new. A study of ABA evaluations of judicial nominees from 1977-2008 found ‘strong evidence of systematic bias in favor of Democratic nominees,’ who were likelier to be rated “well-qualified” than similarly qualified Republicans,” Jacobson and Markind write.

In order to receive federal student loans, law students must attend an accredited law school. The American Bar Association is the only federally recognized law school accreditor.

Campus Reform has reached out to the American Bar Association for comment. This article will be updated accordingly.

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