The New York State Bar Association held its first-ever virtual meeting of the House of Delegates today and adopted three groundbreaking reports that recommend toughening the New York bar exam, encouraging lawyers to practice in rural areas and making New York more attractive for the testing of autonomous vehicles.
“From innovative initiatives to address the rural justice crisis to our efforts to examine autonomous vehicles, NYSBA is not only at the forefront of shaping the future of the legal profession but also the societal trends impacting us all,” said NYSBA President Hank Greenberg. “I’m proud that our association is leading the national discussion on these vitally important issues including the New York bar exam and I thank all of the task forces for their extraordinary leadership.”
NYSBA’s Task Force on the New York Bar Exam is recommending a new process to test law school graduates to ensure that they are ready to practice law and serve clients effectively in New York. The task force recommendations include eliminating the New York Law Exam phase of the bar exam and replacing it with a more rigorous component focused on New York law that would be a prerequisite for admission to practice in New York.
The report and recommendations of the Task Force on Rural Justice includes loan repayment reforms, tuition assistance programs, relaxing residency requirements for public positions and raising hourly rates for assigned counsel. Research suggests that nearly 75% of current rural lawyers will retire over the next three decades with few to no new attorneys ready to replace them.
Reducing burdensome state regulations that limit the testing of automated vehicle technology and developing a consumer education campaign on the capabilities of autonomous vehicles are among the recommendations of the Task Force on Autonomous Vehicles and the Law. The report also determined that regulations should be changed to better position New York State as an attractive location for autonomous vehicle development and testing.
Greenberg, in his remarks to members during the first-ever HOD meeting conducted via videoconference, described NYSBA’s response to the coronavirus pandemic as “our finest hour.”
“Leaders and staff are working around the clock to help our members and the public,” Greenberg continued. “No bar association is providing more services or engaging in more effective advocacy for the betterment of the profession.”
Greenberg went on to note the numerous examples of the work being done by NYSBA to address the challenges to lawyers presented by COVID-19, all of which you can read about here.
Watch the House of Delegates meeting here.