Sunday, May 2, 2010

Is there any part of a lawyer's responsibilities that is more torturous than CLE?  In theory, continuing legal education is a fantastic idea to ensure that lawyers continue to learn and grow in their skills and keep up on the law and practice trends.  But in practice, CLE is the bane of my professional existence.  It is quite simply the most boring, and often the most useless, 12 hours of my year.  Especially the mandatory ethics hours.

The problem is that most CLE presentations are just dull.  Especially the ethics presentations.  Everybody relies on Power Points, but few use them in a way that truly enhances the talk.  At this past week's CLE, the presentation that held my attention the best was the one that was outrageously bad on the law.  The presenter had clearly not really prepared for his talk and had relied on old materials.  Because he had not done his homework, he gave a presentation that gave bad advice to the rest of us.  I happened to know this issue well because I had recently dealt with such a case, so I caught the glaring errors and bad practice tips in the talk.  But others in the room probably hadn't read the more recent cases and so might rely on his materials to the detriment of their clients.  Having exposed the flaws in this talk has caused me to question how much other bad law and bad advice I've received at CLEs over the years.

Too many people putting on CLEs don't take it seriously and don't make their presentations interesting.  Probably because it's not that easy to make a CLE presentation interesting.  One problem is that not all CLE topics are interesting to all lawyers.  Even criminal defense lawyers don't all want to sit through the same topics.  Please save me from topics relating to DUI or guns.  But I'm sure a lot of the DUI guys don't want to discuss capital voir dire, either.  It's not that easy to put on a CLE talk that is useful, informative, entertaining, and interesting to all participants.  I know when I've been in charge of a CLE presentation, I've struggled with finding a way to present my hour that will distract the audience from their iPhones.

I guess the bottom line is that CLE is just too much like school.  And even grown adults don't want to sit through class.  We all want to pass notes, play on our laptops, doodle, or daydream while staring out the window.  So, yeah, the theory of CLE as a requirement for all lawyers is so much better than the reality we all dread.  At least I have earned my CLE credits for the year, including those dreaded two ethics hours.


Dinah Bee Menil said...
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Nance said...

Try being a teacher and having to take hours every time you re-license, PAY FOR THEM YOURSELF, get fingerprinted and have a background check and PAY FOR THAT YOURSELF (all the while knowing that there are criminals in your own classes for whose BCIs you paid with your tax dollars, yet you have no idea who said criminals may be, and not even receive a pay bump unless the hours are toward a different license. (And know that the amount you paid for grad hours isn't offset until about three years into your new contract salary.)

Just sayin'.

S said...

Yeah, I think all professions have annoying requirements. I have to pay for my own CLE, too, as my agency long since gave up paying for anything useful.

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