Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Mashantucket Tribe Does Away with Tribal Bar Exam

The Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Court in Connecticut has stopped issuing its tribal bar exam. The Court, which resides over criminal and civil claims involving tribal members and claims against Foxwoods Casino by non tribal members, will no longer require attorneys to pass a special written exam before being permitted to practice in the court.

Edward Gasser, president of the tribal court bar association, explained to the New London Day that the test had become quite burdensome over the years and lawyers were becoming less likely to devote the necessary time to preparation. As a result, fewer and fewer lawyers were passing the exam; in recent years, only about 50 percent of those taking the test passed. Perhaps because of this difficult entry requirement, only about 150 to 200 attorneys are presently qualified to practice in the Mashantucket court systems. With the removal of the written exam, attorneys who are already admitted to practice in a state and federal court and wish to apply for admission to the tribal bar must pay a fee.  This change is expected to increase the number of attorneys qualified to practice in the Tribal Courts. Currently, the Mohegan Tribe still has a written bar exam attorneys must pass in order to be admitted to practice in the Mohegan Tribal Courts.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

“Pay-For-Experience” Ad Criticized by Connecticut Legal Community

Would (or should) newly admitted attorneys and law school graduates pay an experienced attorney for experience? This is the question Stratford trial lawyer, Kenneth Beck, recently attempted to answer by placing a “Help Wanted”ad on Craigslist. Beck told the Connecticut Law Tribune that he “wasn't looking to charge five people $300 an hour to go to court with me…I was just looking to basically not lose money that's involved in explaining things. It would be learning by doing. I thought it was a creative way to fill a gap. I thought I was offering a service.” 

The “service” however, is already offered for free as a mentorship program through the bar association. His idea has raised controversy over whether it is wrong for a law firm to charge law school graduates for on-the-job training. Lou Pepe, co-chair of the Connecticut Bar Association's Professionalism and CLE section, told the Law Tribune that he thinks it “quite unfortunate that anyone would try to exploit the plight of recent law school grads in such a manner. I hope it's not a portent of things to come in our profession.” Students, lawyers, professors, bloggers and the like have reacted negatively to the ad, questioning the motivation behind such a posting. Beck ultimately pulled the ad after receiving nasty emails and responses from people who believed the pay-for-experience ad was wrong.