12 Docket Call 1 (1977)

handle is hein.journals/dcktcll12 and id is 1 raw text is: chairman's
Harry Wright III



Several matters of priority concern to the General
Practice Section were dealt with at the meeting of
the Council in connection with the Mid-Winter
Meeting of the American Bar Association in Seattle.
Each resulted from work done by Committees since
the Council's Fall Meeting.
With respect to the ongoing debate over the
matter of certification or designation of specialties
and the Discussion Draft of the ABA's Special
Committee on Specialization, the Council updated
continued on page 2

udicial survey on quality of advocacy:
the jury returns
A. B. Conant, Jr.

In 1974, alarmed by judicial criticism of the trial
barand the spate of proposals for sweeping changes
in the profession to which such criticism gave rise,
the General PracticerSecttin of the American Bar
Association set out to accumulate empirical evi-
dence onthe state of advocacy in the United States.
The Section's mandate to its Advocacy Committee,
was to determine the extent of incompetence in the
courtroom, the extent to which such incompetency
as existed affected the substantive rights of the lit-
igants, and the manifestations, causes and cures of
The Section's concern was that, without some
definite information on the scope, nature, or even
existence of the problem, the Bar could not intel-
ligently evaluate the many proposals for cures which
were being made. How was the Bar to react respon-
sibly, for example, to proposals for wholesale re-
vamping of law school curricula until it knew
*A. B. Conant, Jr., is Chairman of the Committee on Advocacy
and a member of the firm of Shank, Irwin, Conant, Williamson and
Grevelle of Dallas.
1. Lawyers, it seems, are no less guilty than their clients of
proceeding on inadequate facts. In the Final Report of the Annual
Chief Justice Earl Warren Conference on Advocacy in the United
States, held in June of 1976, which considered Trial Advocacy as
a Specialty, it was noted:
Several conferees suggested that the accusations of lawyer

whether deficiencies in academic background gave
rise to  manifested   incom-
petence? How    can the Bar
embrace    specialization  for
advocates or imposition of
mni imurm  standards for ad
mission to   practice before
courts until it knows whether
inadequate    knowledge    of
procedural and    evidentiary
rules is a cause for inadequa-
cy  in   courtroom    perfor-
mance? In short, how    does
the Bar propose a sensible solution without knowing
the scope of the problem?1
The Advocacy Committee elected to attack the
problem by surveying all of the judges of general
jurisdiction in the United States. The survey would
continued on page 10
incompetence were mainly anecdotal, and that there was no
empirical data available to document such claims. The ab-
sence of information, they said, made it difficult to deal pre-
scriptively with the problems.
Nonetheless, the conferees recommended by a wide margin that
minimum standards for admission to the courts to try cases be
adopted. The Conference also recommended trial advocacy be
identified as a specialty and that a national bar association
certify such specialists.

Produced by the ABA Press

 1977 American Bar Association

INSURANCE............. 6
CASE..............   8
WHAT'S UP - WHAT'S IN..... 14


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