ALBANY – Law school graduates will be allowed to count more credit hours from clinics, field placement courses and externships toward establishing their eligibility to take the New York bar exam under new curriculum requirements issued by the state Court of Appeals on Jan. 12.

The new rules, the first modications to the Court’s eligibility requirements since 1998, are intended “to reflect the realities of current legal education, provide greater flexibility to students in scheduling classes and promote clinical education to better prepare law school graduates for the practice of law,” the State Board of Law Examiners said in a statement.

Read the new rules.

The changes to §520.3 of the high court’s attorney admission rules, which were proposed by the law examiners after consultation with law school administrators and representatives of the state bar, will increase to 30 from 20 the permitted clinical hours beginning in the 2012-13 academic year.

The examiners said that the expanded clinical experience addresses a “growing concern” that many graduates are unprepared to enter practice and “will hopefully lead to the expansion of practice opportunities for law students.”

The new rules also increase the minimum number of credit hours to 83 from 80. Finally, the former requirements mandating specified days and weeks of instruction have been replaced with a more generalized program and academic calendar requirements.

“More options should be available for students who want to pursue non-traditional class schedules because they need to work in order to pay for the increasing tuition costs,” the bar examiners said.

The new rules are in line with standards of the Amercian Bar Association and rules in other states, the examiners said.