4 UALR L. J. 1 (1981)
Lawyer Competence and the Law Schools

handle is hein.journals/ualr4 and id is 9 raw text is: UNIVERSITY OF ARKANSAS AT LITTLE ROCK
VOLUME 4           1981           NUMBER 1

Roger C Cramton * *
Chief Justice Burger and other prominent jurists have spoken
in recent years about a serious problem of lawyer competency.
The Chief Justice was widely quoted as stating that as many as fifty
percent of trial lawyers in federal district courts were incompe-
tent;' and later he observed that if the same standards of quality
were applied to recent law graduates as are applied to automobiles,
the rate of recall would be very high.2
Implicit, if not explicit, in these statements is an argument
along the following lines: First, inadequate performance by lawyers
is a major weakness in the administration of justice in the United
* This article draws on several experiences of the past few years, especially my service
as chairman of the American Bar Association Task Force on Lawyer Competency: The
Role of the Law Schools. I have drawn on the Report of the Task Force in preparing this
lecture. I have also drawn on a paper prepared for the October 1979 national conference on
legal education held at Key Biscayne, Florida, under the auspices of the Council on Legal
Education for Professional Responsibility. Some of the same material is also included in an
earlier article, The Law Schools and Lawyer Competence, 51 N.Y.S.B.J. 543 (1979).
This article was the basis for the Altheimer Lecture at the University of Arkansas at
Little Rock in April 1980. The Altheimer series, funded by The Ben J. Altheimer
Foundation, brings legal scholars of national reputation to the UALR School of Law.
** Roger C. Cramton, Professor at the Comell Law School and Visiting Professor at
the Duke University Law School (1980-1981).
1. See, e.g., Burger, The Special Skills ofAdvocacy. Are Specialized Training and Certi-
fication ofAdvocates Essential to Our System of Justice?, 42 FORDHAM L. REV. 227, 234
2. See Address by Chief Justice Burger, American Bar Association Annual Meeting
New York City (Aug. 9, 1978).

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