The New Haven County Bar Association: an example of how to respect and strengthen the legal profession

The New Haven County Bar Association improves the professional lives of New Haven County lawyers.  The NHCBA motto “Encouraging Each Other To Excellence” encompasses three characteristics essential to the legal profession:  collective responsibility, collective opportunity and a dedication to excellence.

Although largely ignored by most lawyers, there is an important democratic aspect to the legal profession in Connecticut.  The CBA and local and specialty bar associations provide real opportunities for all lawyers to have a voice in shaping the profession.  For example, the NHCBA recently took up the the CBA Proposal For Mandatory Continuing Legal Education.  An NHCBA committee was formed to study the proposal and the NHCBA conducted a member survey, presenting each NHCBA member with the opportunity to “vote” on the issue.  Based on the committee’s work and on the survey results, the NHCBA decided to oppose the current mandatory CLE proposal.  For a September 12, 2008 article in the NHCBA Newsletter about the NHCBA’s decision click here.

We have a slightly different view on mandatory CLE.  Consistent with the NHCBA position, we fear that government regulation of CLE is likely to be expensive, bureaucratic and counterproductive.  However, we believe continuing legal education has been mandatory since the beginning of the practice of law and that it has been and always will be a defining obligation and opportunity for all lawyers.  For us the question is how the profession should make clear that CLE is a mandatory, non-negotiable professional responsibility, establish standards and require all lawyers to document compliance with best practices standards.  We have some ideas in mind and will share them in a later post.