By Laura L. Gleason
Special to the Legal
We’ve all attended CLEs that brought to mind our law school days. There’s one guy in the first row asking a five-minute question at 11:59 while the rest of us are pondering tuna versus turkey; folks in the back juggling the newspaper, their iPhone and coffee (anything but the lecture handout); and of course a number of attorneys who penciled the course in their calendar but didn’t make it due to that urgent client e-mail they received last night, or maybe they just didn’t feel like sitting in another conference room all day.
Some years back at 3:58 on a Friday, that guy was in the front row trying to really hone his understanding of the Rule Against Perpetuities while several of us were checking the box scores online, discreetly making our Saturday night plans, or hadn’t shown up in the first place due to our Thursday night plans.
And as with law school, we’ve all attended CLEs that didn’t have any obvious connection to our work. I’ve never encountered a case in practice implicating the Rule Against Perpetuities, nor do I expect to handle a dog-bite case, but there’s no reason I can’t get one of my 12 PA credits learning about the “one bite rule.”
Given the similarity between the two, it’s surprising how much disconnect there is between law school and CLE. But there are some organizations trying to add value to both the law school experience and CLE courses by sharing goals and lessons across these two types of learning.
ALI-ABA and ACLEA (the association for CLE professionals) held a summit in 2009 called, “Equipping Our Lawyers,” during which the participants tangled with challenges to the current model of legal education, preparing law students for a post-recession legal world, and strengthening the continuum between law school and CLE training.
I encourage you to read the recommendations they’ve produced (as well as the resources they’ve compiled and relied upon) at their site and think about your own experience transitioning into the practice of law, as well as ways your CLE experience could be modified to better support you in your practice.
Laura L. Gleason is an associate in the antitrust department at Berger & Montague. She also writes about the practice of law and legal education at LawLearn. Follow her on Twitter at @lawlearn.