This article, Attorneys’ education is an ongoing process (Business Journal of Phoenix, 1/23/06) reports on Continuing Legal Education (CLE) in Arizona, which has been a required since 1989. The article talks about the importance of CLE and the bar’s flexibility in allowing the requirements satisfied through a variety of differently priced options. But I’d have liked to see statistics, such as whether lawsuits or grievances based on attorney incompetence have declined or whether public perception of attorneys has improved, during the 16 years that the requirement has been in place.
Given that there are now so many low cost options available for CLE (and at least one more that I’ve proposed),
I can’t really object that it places an undue financial burden on solo
and small firm lawyers. At the same time, the most valuable learning
for many solo and small firm lawyers comes not in the form of classroom
education, but from bouncing ideas off, and asking questions of more
experienced colleagues. I know that’s certainly where I’ve learned the
most in my practice.
Also, I think it’s kind of silly that the bar has to force
people to learn more. Staying abreast of your practice areas and
learning new ones will make your practice more competitive and keep
things fresh. The fact that lawyers don’t realize the value of continuing to learn as much as they can doesn’t speak well of our profession. And that attitude isn’t something that can be cured by forcing lawyers to sit in a classroom or in front of a computer participating in a webinar 15 hours a year.