"Continuing legal education (CLE) is one way to help lawyers stay current with substantive law, skills, and prepare for potentially dramatic and fast moving changes to the practice of law. This paper examines one year of continuing legal education approved for credit in Minnesota. While Minnesota attorneys enjoy access to over 10,000 CLE courses in a variety of timely topics, there are opportunities to improve. In order to best address the rapid and dramatic change in the legal field, a more favorable regulation of law office management CLEs is required. More flexible regulation and partnerships between CLE providers, bar associations, law schools, and businesses will enable lawyers to better gain and maintain practical skills."
The five attoney petitioners seek unrestricted on demand online CLE for credit. The CLE Board proposes a slight relaxation of rules to permit up to 1/3 of credit be in the form of on demand online CLE, subject to additional requirement, restrictions and exceptions.
These comments, filed September 12, 2003, welcome the Minnesota Supreme Court's initiative to bring about a more holistic concept of subjects appropriate for continuing legal education accreditation but argue against the specific way the CLE Board
proposed to accredit them. Minnesota is the only mandatory CLE state that actually restricts lawyers from taking "too much" law practice management coursework. The proposed rule would further diminish law practice management educational opportunities for Minnesota lawyers.
Meanwhile, the 1992 MacCrate Report recognized that law practice management is one of ten essential skills every lawyer needs. And survey results published in 2000 show that while Minnesota lawyers say law practice management skills are important, they also say they are not learning them in law school or through continuing legal education.
The section proposes letting lawyers, not the rules, decide which courses are most relevant, subject to one broad definition of acceptable subject matter.
"Firms were asked to describe the methods on which they rely to train junior trial lawyers. The Task Force received responses from more than seventy-five firms and feedback from dozens of individual practitioners." ... The report concludes: "The best trial training is trying cases. Failing that, the best trial-training program
for a particular law firm is a function of many factors. This Report is intended to supply firms with alternative approaches in use around the country, to make an informed selection possible." 59 pages.
The full name of the report is: Legal Education and Professional Development -- An Educational Continuum. Report of The Task Force on Law Schools and the Profession: Narrowing the Gap, published by the American Bar Association Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar. July 1992.
The report is divided into these sections: The profession for which lawyers must prepare. A vision of the skills and values new lawyers should seek to acquire. The educational continuum through which lawyers acquire their skills and values. Recommendations of the Task Force. Appendices.
This key report is available on the Web only in excerpt format. In book form, 414 pages long, it masterfully summarizes the history and composition of the legal profession and of legal education and continuing legal education. The centerpiece of the Task Force report is the Statement of Fundamental Lawyering Skills and Professional Values. The report groups essential skills under these headings: problem solving, legal analysis and reasoning, legal research, factual investigation, communication, counseling, negotiation, litigation and alternative dispute resolution procedures, organization and management of legal work, and recognizing and resolving ethical dilemmas. Fundamental values are grouped under the headings: provision of competent representation, striving to promote justice, fairness, and morality, striving to improve the profession, and professional self-development.
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