In what may turn out to be Silkenat’s signature project, he discussed the joining of two pressing issues for the legal profession: access to justice and the dearth of jobs for newly minted lawyers.
Using jobless law school graduates to increase access to justice is a popular idea these days. The problem is that jobless law school graduates are also inexperienced and unqualified, as a rule. Any work they do, whether it’s for the poor or anyone else, is not automatically helpful. It’s more likely harmful, unless they have competent mentors.
Like others running to provide needy clients with incompetent lawyers, new ABA President James Silkenat proposes to create a Legal Access Job Corps to kill those two birds with one stone. It’s just not clear — to me, at least — that Silkenat is concerned with the competence of those jobless lawyers. From the ABA Journal article, it seems like his primary concern is getting funding. I hope that’s just the ABA Journal’s focus, and not an accurate assessment of Silkenat’s proposal.
Getting funding is obviously a primary concern; I just hope he plans to give a lot of that funding to competent mentors, assuming he ever gets it.