Book Review, Joan Howarth, Shaping the Bar: The Future of Attorney Licensing

16 Pages Posted: 10 Nov 2023 Last revised: 24 Feb 2024

See all articles by Marsha Griggs

Marsha Griggs

Saint Louis University - School of Law

Andrea Anne Curcio

Georgia State University - College of Law

Date Written: November 9, 2023

Abstract

In Shaping the Bar: The Future of Attorney Licensing, Professor Joan Howarth issues a clarion call to the academy, the legal community, and the judiciary to reform how we license lawyers in the United States. In this book Howarth identifies the current crisis in law licensing, the history of racism that created this crisis, and the tools available to address it. Shaping the Bar challenges our entrenched notions of professional identity, and it forces us to confront vulnerabilities in attorney self-regulation. It does so in a manner that will stir even those not immersed in the current debate about law licensing. This review highlights Howarth’s explanation of how the attorney licensing system fails to protect the public by failing to assess the skills and abilities new lawyers need to competently represent clients while simultaneously unjustifiably excluding people of color and those without financial resources. The review summarizes her data-based arguments that explain how we have developed and perpetuated a system that fails the public and systematically disadvantages particular groups, and her eminently workable suggestions for how to change the system. It discusses how Howarth connects the law licensing process to legal education, highlighting the symbiotic relationship between the two, and noting that as legal educators, we must accept responsibility for our part in creating, and hopefully now dismantling, this system.

Keywords: legal profession, attorneys, bar exam, professional licensing, lawyers, attorney licensing

Suggested Citation

Griggs, Marsha and Curcio, Andrea Anne, Book Review, Joan Howarth, Shaping the Bar: The Future of Attorney Licensing (November 9, 2023). 71 Journal of Legal Education 543 (2022)., Georgia State University College of Law, Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2024-04, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4628743

Marsha Griggs

Saint Louis University - School of Law

100 N. Tucker Blvd.
Scott Hall
St Louis, MO 63101
United States

Andrea Anne Curcio (Contact Author)

Georgia State University - College of Law ( email )

P.O. Box 4037
Atlanta, GA 30302-4037
United States

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