Skills & Values

Task Force On Law Schools And The Profession -- Narrowing the Gap

"Legal Education and Professional Development - An Education Continuum" (MacCrate Report)Overview of Fundamental Lawyering Skills and Values

The ABA Task Force on Law Schools and the Profession: Narrowing the Gap was formed to study and improve the processes by which new members of the legal profession are prepared for the practice of law.  In Part Two of the Task Force's 1992 report, a list of  skills and values that an individual needs to become a competent and responsible member of the profession was provided for students and individuals who are considering entering the profession.  This list serves as an overview of the skills and values that legal employers often expect new attorneys to possess.

Students are encouraged to use the list to determine which of their courses and practical experiences demonstrate that they possess good lawyering skills so that they may effectively market themselves through their resumes, cover letters, interviews and throughout the job searches within the legal community.

A Vision Of The Skills And Values Which New Lawyers Should Seek To Acquire

I. Fundamental Lawyering Skills

A. Problem Solving

In order to develop and evaluate strategies for solving a problem or accomplishing an objective, a lawyer should be familiar with the skills and concepts involved in:

  1. Identifying and Diagnosing the Problem
  2. Generating Alternative Solutions and Strategies
  3. Developing A Plan of Action
  4. Implementing the Plan
  5. Keeping the Planning Process Open to New Information and New Ideas

B.  Legal Analysis and Reasoning

In order to analyze and apply legal rules and principles, a lawyer should be familiar with the skills and concepts involved in:

  1. Identifying and Formulating Legal Issues
  2. Formulating Relevant Legal Theories
  3. Elaborating Legal Theory
  4. Evaluating Legal Theory
  5. Criticizing and Synthesizing Legal Argumentation

C.  Legal Research

In order to identify legal issues and to research them thoroughly and efficiently, a lawyer should have:

  1. Knowledge of the Nature of Legal Rules and Institutions
  2. Knowledge of and Ability to Use the Most Fundamental Tools of Legal Research
  3. Understanding of the process of Devising and Implementing a Coherent and Effective Research Design

D.  Factual Investigation

In order to plan, direct, and (where applicable) participate in factual investigation, a lawyer should be familiar with the skills and concepts involved in:

  1. Determining the Need for Factual Investigation
  2. Planning a Factual Investigation
  3. Implementing the Investigative Strategy
  4. Memorializing and Organizing Information in an Accessible Form
  5. Deciding Whether to Conclude the Process of Fact-Gathering
  6. Evaluating the Information That Has Been Gathered

E.  Communication

In order to communicate effectively, whether orally or in writing, a lawyer should be familiar with the skills and concepts involved in:

  1. Assessing the Perspective of the Recipient of the Communication
  2. Using Effective Methods of Communication

F.  Counseling

In order to counsel clients about decisions or course of action, a lawyer should be familiar with the skills and concepts involved in:

  1. Establishing a Counseling Relationship That Respects The Nature & Bounds of a Lawyer's Role
  2. Gathering Information Relevant to the Decision to Be Made
  3. Analyzing the Decision to Be Made
  4. Counseling the Client About the Decision to Be Made
  5. Ascertaining and Implementing the Client's Decision

G.  Negotiation

In order to negotiate in either a dispute-resolution or transactional context, a lawyer should be familiar with the skills and concepts involved in:

  1. Preparing for Negotiation
  2. Conducting a Negotiation Session
  3. Counseling the Client About the Terms Obtained From the Other Side in the Negotiation and   Implementing the Client's Decision

H.  Litigation and Alternative Dispute-Resolution Procedures

In order to employ - or to advise a client about - the options of litigation and alternative dispute resolution, a lawyer should understand the potential function and consequences of these processes and should have a working knowledge of the fundamentals of:

  1. Litigation at the Trial-Court Level
  2. Litigation at the Appellate Level
  3. Advocacy in Administrative and Executive Forums
  4. Proceedings in Other Dispute-Resolution Forums

I.  Organization and Management of Legal Work

In order to practice effectively, a lawyer should be familiar with the skills and concepts required for efficient management, including:

  1. Formulating Goals and Principles for Effective Practice Management
  2. Developing Systems and Procedures to Ensure that Time, Effort, and Resources Are Allocated Efficiently
  3. Developing Systems and Procedures to Ensure that Work is Performed and completed at the Appropriate Time
  4. Developing Systems and Procedures for effectively Working with Other People
  5. Developing Systems and Procedures for Efficiently Administering a Law Office

J.  Recognizing and Resolving Ethical Dilemmas

In order to represent a client consistently with applicable ethical standards, a lawyer should be familiar with:

  1. The Nature and Sources of Ethical Standards
  2. The Means by Which Ethical Standards are Enforced
  3. The Processes for Recognizing and Resolving Ethical Dilemmas

II.  Fundamental Values of the Profession

A.  Provision of Competent Representation

As a member of a profession dedicated to the service of clients, a lawyer should be committed to the values of:

  1. Attaining a Level of Competence in One's Own Field of Practice
  2. Maintaining a Level of Competence in One's Own Field of Practice
  3. Representing Clients in a Competent Manner

B.  Striving to Promote Justice, Fairness, and Morality

As a member of a profession that bears special responsibilities for the quality of justice a lawyer should be committed to the values of:

  1. Promoting Justice, Fairness, and Morality in One's Own Daily Practice
  2. Contributing to the Profession's Fulfillment of its Responsibility to Ensure that Adequate Legal Services Are Provided to Those Who Cannot Afford to Pay for Them
  3. Contributing to the Profession's Fulfillment of its Responsibility to Enhance the Capacity of Law and Legal Institutions to Do Justice

C.  Striving to Improve the Profession

As a member of a self-government profession, a lawyer should be committed to the values of:

  1. Participating in Activities Designed to Improve the Profession
  2. Assisting in the Training and Preparation of New Lawyers
  3. Striving to Rid the Profession of Bias Based on Race, Religion, Ethic Origin, Gender, Sexual Orientation, or Disability, and to Rectify the Effects of These Biases

D.  Professional Self-Development

As a member of a learned profession, a lawyer should be committed to the values of:

  1. Seeking Out and Taking Advantage of Opportunities to Increase His or Her Knowledge and   Improve His or Her Skills
  2. Selecting and Maintaining Employment That Will Allow the Lawyer to Develop As A Professional and To Pursue His or Her Professional and Personal Goals