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44th Street Notes


The Association's Commitment to CLE


Apr 2000

The concept of legal education as a continuum extending beyond law school throughout one's professional career, once a theoretical abstraction, is now a reality of every lawyer's life. For decades lawyers have had the opportunity, if they chose, to hone their professional skills and keep current with developments in their respective areas of practice by attending programs at this Association and elsewhere. That opportunity has become a necessity following the promulgation by the New York Court of Appeals of rules establishing mandatory, biennial CLE requirements. What does the Association offer its members and other lawyers to help them satisfy those requirements? How are those offerings made? And why should lawyers fulfill their CLE requirements through the Association, rather than the large and growing number of other CLE providers?

The CitiBar Center for Continuing Legal Education The Association's commitment to CLE antedates the imposition of mandatory CLE requirements in 1997 for newly admitted attorneys and in 1998 for more experienced attorneys. In April 1995 the Association created the CitiBar Center for Continuing Legal Education. In the five ensuing years its programs have increased in number, variety and depth. The Winter/Spring 2000 catalogue describes 45 programs, including introductory courses for new lawyers, updates and "hot topic" programs for experienced practitioners, and skills training courses. There are three separate ethics programs, five on alternative dispute resolution, nine on litigation and trial tactics, and 19 introductory "Bridge the Gap" programs for recently admitted attorneys. (A complete listing of the Winter/Spring 2000 courses can be found on the Association's website-www.abcny.org-which can be used for on-line registration.) Programs range in length from two to twelve hours, and the size of the faculty similarly varies from a lone lecturer on drafting contracts to 32 lawyer instructors in the litigation skills training program. "Passport" options enable both newly admitted attorneys and more experienced lawyers to accumulate multiple credit hours by choosing several programs from a variety of course offerings at a significant discount. Even before Chief Judge Kaye announced in her recent State of the Judiciary address that the CLE rules will be amended to allow partial credit for pro bono work, the Association was offering pro bono training programs with CLE credit in such areas as family violence, immigration and elderlaw, and waiving course fees for individuals who fulfill a volunteer pro bono commitment within one year of taking the course.

The Association's Commitment Continues to Grow For the past year and a half, the CitiBar Center for CLE has been ably headed by Joyce Adolfsen, with talented and tireless support from Anna Nichols, the current Acting Director. They and the five other CLE staff members have flourished under the invigorating leadership of E. Leo Milonas, who became Chair of the Association's CLE Committee while still a Justice on the Appellate Division, First Department, and has continued to oversee the program since returning to private practice. The Association's commitment of resources to CLE continues to grow. The CitiBar CLE Center budget has quintupled since the Center's creation in 1995 and is projected to increase still further in the next fiscal year. The Association's increasing commitment to CLE is most graphically demonstrated by the new 130-seat Training Center that is under construction on the second floor of the adjacent Bar Building and is scheduled to open in May. This spacious, well-lighted classroom, which can be subdivided for smaller classes, will have state-of-the-art audiovisual equipment that will enable instructors to utilize a variety of media for presentations and will allow the staff to produce high quality audio and video tapes for sale to those who want to study in their offices or at home. New CLE staff offices will be located adjacent to the Training Center.

Fulfilling CLE Needs at the Association Let me now turn to the last question I posed above: Why should lawyers fulfill their CLE needs through the Association? I can think of two good reasons. First, the Association recruits most of its CLE faculty from its 21,000 members, who include many of the most talented, accomplished and experienced lawyers in the profession, as well as many sitting judges. For example, in our Litigation Skills Workshop, fledgling litigators are taught in small groups by leading members of the trial bar; the student-faculty ratio is never greater than three to one. Second, most programs are proposed and developed by the Association's nearly 180 committees, ensuring that the course subjects are topical and relevant to every-day practice. Moreover, reliance on committees to generate specific CLE programs permits the Association to recruit faculty from committee members in a variety of practice settings, including law firms, in-house corporate counsel and government law offices, as well as academia. The Association is firmly and irrevocably committed to assisting its 21,000 members and other lawyers in meeting their CLE requirements, both those imposed by rule and others that are self-imposed. There is no greater service we can offer to the legal profession.

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