Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Above Water

Lately, I have been swamped. I have been thinking mostly about the nuances of administrative law and of pleading. The reasons for both of these things will likely be public in the next few weeks.

Today, however, I wasted an enormous chunk of the day. Illinois recently imposed a requirement that lawyers engage in Continuing Legal Education. I understand and applaud the idea behind this new rule. The bar wants to be certain that lawyers are aware of developments in the law. It is a means of protecting the public. Almost every other state bar has a CLE requirement. I get that.

The problem for me and--judging by my visitor data--probably you, is that your run-of-the mill CLE is not particularly useful for a customs lawyer. Today, I spent three hours listing to several speakers talk about evidentiary issues that arise in trials, making objections, preserving the record, etc. I am sure it was a great seminar. The people around me were taking copious notes and laughing knowingly every time someone mentioned the name of a local judge. There was lots of discussion about Illinois Rule 213.

The problem is that the seminar was probably most useful to Cook County tort litigators. I learned a lot about the admissibility of medical records. Well, "learned" is too strong of a word. I heard a lot about that. I could not tell you what I heard. It was not useful for me. The speakers did not address the Federal Rules of either Evidence or Civil Procedure and I am willing to bet that I was the only person in the room admitted to the U.S. Court of International Trade. Also, the material was not really general enough to be applicable to what we do.

Of course, the flip side is that if we ran a local CLE program on some juicy topic like liquidation by operation of law or the deemed export rule, only 10 people would show up and six would be in the wrong room.

I don't do wills, speeding tickets, or real estate transactions. Today, listening to lots of war stories about the Cook County courts, I was reminded why. Apparently, if I am not intimately familiar with Illinois Rule 213, everyone is better off that I stick to what I know. Remind me to bore them with stories of suspension disposition calendars and protestable events.

1 comment:

rp said...

I'm envious of your CLE commentary. I wish we "licensed" brokers had a CLE. It would give us more credibility and increase our status within the trade community.

So from someone who wished we had it, don't be discounting the fact that you need it. Imagine if you pased your bar in the 1980's and there was no CLE. So much of the law has changed, specially in Customs law.

I gather you are not one of those you just puts the books away after learning, but I'm sure some in the profession stopped "continued learning" after school. I'm sure their work demonstrates that too!