The Creation of C.L.E.A.R.
On November 28, judges and court officials from different states began investigating how lawyers are licensed. The main topic of conversation was whether law schools are preparing students well enough for real-world scenarios when practicing law.
The Committee on Legal Education and Admissions Reform is a collaborative effort by the Conference of Chief Justices and the Conference of State Court Administrators. These twelve members will take 18 months will review legal education, bar admissions processes, and the decline of public interest attorneys. Recommendations will be made to the state supreme courts on how lawyers are licensed.
This committee was created due to the increasing practice areas without local attorneys, and how a growing number of Americans cannot afford an attorney for such cases as divorces and landlord disputes. Gordon MacDonald, the Chief Justice of the New Hampshire Supreme Court and the chair of the task force, said the challenge that legal services organizations face in recruiting and keeping lawyers also played a role.
“If we measure success by how well we are serving the public’s needs, what we’re doing is not working,” MacDonald said in a recent interview.
Ohio, Arizona, Indiana, and Utah are among the states on the committee. New Mexico, Wyoming, Oregon, South Dakota, Alabama, Maine, and Delaware are also participating alongside New Hampshire.
This task force comes at an important time in lawyer licensing. The National Conference of Bar Examiners, or NCBE, is set to introduce a new national bar exam in July 2026, focusing more on practical skills rather than memorization. This is the first major change to the bar exam in 25 years.
At the same time, more states are considering alternative licensing paths that allow law graduates to practice without taking the bar exam. This comes amid criticism that the bar exam creates unfair barriers for minority individuals and those who can’t afford expensive bar prep courses or months of study without working.