Claudia Diamond is right on target in her recent commentary, "Bar exam does not a lawyer make" (Nov. 7), in pointing out the lack of a practical experience requirement prior to licensure as a lawyer in Maryland.
By way of comparison, a physician must complete 3 to 5 years of residency at approximately 3,500 hours each year, often followed by several years of fellowship training, prior to sitting for a specialty board examination and being certified to practice a medical specialty. This is in addition to the many hours of direct patient care experience that are part of the medical school curriculum. As far as I know, there is no comparable requirement for lawyers to complete specialty training or certification as a condition for being able to practice in a special area of the law.
It is also important to note that health care professionals in Maryland, including physicians, dentists, pharmacists and psychologists, must fulfill a continuing education requirement as part of their biennial re-licensure. It would seem that 50 hours of pro bono work is but a small first step in the right direction for newly graduated lawyers, but it is also clear that the legal profession has a long way to go to catch up with the health care professions in Maryland.
Dr. Beryl J. Rosenstein, Baltimore
The writer is professor of pediatrics at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.
To respond to this letter, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.