In 2015, the New York Court of Appeals added Rule 520.18, titled, “Skills, Competency Requirements for Admission,” to its rules for admission to the bar in New York State. The Rule requires applicants for admission to the bar to "demonstrate that the applicant possesses the skills and values necessary to provide effective, ethical and responsible legal services in this State." Those skills and professional values were not otherwise defined.
The Institute’s April 2019 Convocation, From Law School to Practice: Instilling Skills, Competencies and Professional Values, A Dialogue with the Academy, Bench and Bar. brought together all the Judges on the New York Court of Appeals, many of the fifteen New York law school deans and more than 100 other professors, judges and practitioners (and some students) to discuss Rule 520.18 and how law schools and other providers of legal education, such as continuing legal education providers and law firms were dealing with and applying it.
Out of that Convocation came the Institute's Handbook: Legal Skills and Professional Values, setting forth descriptions of suggested skills and professional values for practicing lawyers. In addition, the Handbook contains a message from New York State Chief Judge Janet DiFiore, a brief description of the debates concerning the teaching of legal skills and professional values in law schools, a brief history of the legal profession in America and a brief history of American legal education. It ends with a copy of the Institute’s Chair Emeritus Louis Craco's address on the importance of lawyer independence.
This Handbook will be useful to law school administrators, faculty and providers of continuing legal education, for preparing law students, law graduates and new lawyers to practice law and endowing them with the skills and professional values necessary for the effective, ethical and professional representation and participation in the legal profession that the clients we serve and our communities expect from our honorable profession.
In December 2019, the Administrative Board of the Courts, consisting of the the Chief Judge and the Presiding Justices of the four Appellate Divisions of the Supreme Court, unanimously agreed that a copy of the Institute's Handbook will be presented to every newly-admitted lawyer in New York State at their swearing-in ceremonies.