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After two days of professional introspection, attorneys attending a convocation in Albany, N.Y., called for a major bridge-building effort to wed the idealism of law school with the practicalities of modern practice. Participants in the Convocation on the Face of the Profession proposed mentoring programs, advocated two-way communications between the ivory tower and the law office, and addressed a peculiar disconnect in which academics measure merit in terms of law review articles they write and practitioners rarely read. They also pledged to pay far more attention to the factors that influence the formation of professional values in law students and new lawyers. The convocation was the inaugural public event of New York Chief Judge Judith S. Kaye’s Judicial Institute on Professionalism. As if to underscore the importance she attaches to the institute and its mission, Kaye opened the conference Monday at Albany’s Court of Appeals Hall, marking the first time the courtroom has been used for such a purpose. For the better part of two days, representatives of the bar, the judiciary and law schools convened to re-examine the law school admissions and placement system, and the process by which students and lawyers are assimilated into the profession. When the convocation closed Tuesday afternoon, Louis A. Craco, chairman of the Institute on Professionalism, was elated with the level of discourse and prospects for progress. “We hoped to accomplish a breakthrough in the occasional stand-offishness between the legal academy and the practicing bar about what their respective roles are in the creation of professional values, and I think we did that,” said Craco, of Willkie Farr & Gallagher. “There was a real appetite for collaboration.” Tuesday’s session, held at the New York State Bar Center, included a series of breakout sessions in which groups of practitioners, academics and judges met separately to formulate specific plans for forging a better partnership between the practicing bar and the academy. Then, they reported their strikingly similar findings to the general assembly through the moderator. John R. Dunne, a former New York State Senator now with the Albany firm Whiteman Osterman & Hanna, moderated a group that included five law school deans, five practitioners and a consumer. That group recommended a mentoring program in which practicing attorneys work with law students to add a practical component to legal education. It suggested offering attorney/mentors continuing legal education points, concluded that law firms should credit pro bono work to a young lawyer’s billable hour commitment, and urged an emphasis on teaching core values. It also proposed bringing more clients into the classroom. “We believe that law students, in shaping their expectations, as well as their ability to fulfill the expectations of the consumer, can learn from them and understand what it is they are looking for,” Dunne said. Henry M. Greenberg, of the Albany firm Couch White, moderated a group that independently came up with recommendations similar to those articulated by Dunne’s panel. Greenberg said the artificial barriers between the practice and the academy need to be dismantled. He said bar associations can play a vital role in bringing together a new partnership and nurturing two-way communications between legal education and the practicing bar. MORAL OBLIGATIONS Supreme Court Justice L. Priscilla Hall’s group called for a greater emphasis on the tradition of legal practice, and the professional and moral obligations it imposes on students and practitioners. Hall, of Kings County, N.Y., said law students should be immediately aware and ever mindful that the education and skills they are receiving constitute a privilege, and that they have an obligation to give back to their community. John Stuart Smith of Nixon Peabody said his panel recommended mandatory pro bono for law students and a closer alliance between practice and education. One of the suggestions was to have law professors work with practicing lawyers in developing course work and “coming up with real-life examples that do not come out of the case book.” Another suggestion was to have a better dialogue and nexus between education and practice. Smith said the practicing lawyers in his discussion group were polled to see if any of them had read more than five law review articles in the past year. None had. “Yet there was a heck of a lot of focus on the academic side on merit measured by how many law review articles you write,” Smith said. Smith suggested greater use of professors to write articles for more practice-oriented publications, such as those put out by the bar associations. Lorraine Power Tharp, of McNamee, Lochner, Titus & Williams in Albany, said there seems to be an emphasis in law schools on the top 10 percent of the students and a push to get them in the top firms. Tharp said that culture has to change, with more of an emphasis on matching students with the practice environment for which they are most suited. She also said her group stressed the need for more practical, as opposed to abstract, emphasis on ethics, civility and “telling a young attorney you do not have to push the envelope … to be a zealous advocate.” Craco said the Judicial Institute on Professionalism was created in response to the dramatic and evolving changes in the profession. With more lawyers, more diversity, the emergence of international practice and other issues, a “centrifugal force” has been exerted on lawyering and the scholarly study of law, creating tensions that threaten the coherence of the profession, Craco said. “If you wait for crisis and then put together some blue-ribbon commission, you are both too late and insufficient,” Craco said. “The notion was that since these changes are not going away and these pressures are not going away and the need for legitimate understanding of what professionalism means and implies is not going away, there ought to be an institute … that is not going away.”

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