Thursday, December 24, 2009

CLE for lawyers

Every state bar has a continuing education requirment for lawyers. It's a good idea to require lawyers to keep up with new developments in the law, but as Scott Greenfield of Simple Justice points out, it's not always so clearly of professional value.

In talking about a mailer for a CLE course he recently got, the asks
There's no mention of who will be the instructor, and clearly this isn't a law firm, bar association or law school, but an entity whose purpose is to selling marketing. How the heck did this group obtain authorization to provide continuing legal education? Who in their right mind would give an PR firm the power to confer CLE credits for teaching ethics to lawyers? Apparently, the State of New York did so.

That struck a cord with me because a few years back I gave a talk at an event that gave CLE credit for lawyers in Texas. I'm not a lawyer and don't have any real credentials in the field.

I was teaching Business Analysis (statistics and operations research) at a small school in East Texas and was also a graduate student in Criminal Justice. As part of a CJ course in administrative law I'd written a term paper on the applicability of federal minimum wage laws to prison labor. When a business conference came up in San Antonio and I wanted to take a trip I put together a talk on that term paper topic and submitted the paper. It was accepted in a session that was approved for CLE credit.

I just remember thinking how weird that was -- my total legal education consisted of a Business Law course I'd taken as an undergraduate (and made in C in), a Constitutional Law course I'd taken as a CJ graduate student and the Administrative Law course I'd written the paper for. Not exactly what I'd consider a serious legal education. It made me wonder how serious they were about actual continuing education for lawyers.

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