DerryNews.com, Derry, New Hampshire

April 25, 2013

About the Law: Learning never stops

About the Law
Andrew Myers

---- — Birds chirp, flowers poke through old mulch and … attorneys head back to the classroom.

What? As spring weather finally arrives, New Hampshire attorneys attend continuing legal education classes under an annual requirement with an approaching deadline.

For those who think lawyers are all done with school when they receive their law degrees, I don’t mind telling people about our continuing legal education requirements.

In New Hampshire, Supreme Court Rule 53 requires attorneys to obtain a minimum of 12 hours of approved continuing legal education (CLE) credit annually. This must include at least six hours of live programming and two hours of ethics or professionalism credit.

Many, but not all state licensing authorities require attorney CLE. Massachusetts kicked the idea around, but adoption hasn’t happened there.

The spring connection? Under the rule, attorneys face a June 30 reporting year deadline. Knowing we must complete our requirement by the end of June, numerous course offerings pop up in springtime and that’s when attorneys tend to take part.

What’s new to study? One CLE focused on new New Hampshire civil rules designed to make the civil litigation process more efficient and affordable. After “pilot” runs in three counties, the new rules apply in all Superior Courts in the state as of this spring.

“Here Come the Judges” headlines a CLE by the N.H. Association for Justice. A panel of sitting judges reviews current case law and provides observations useful to this group of civil attorneys.

I attended a class packed with top attorneys across the state. A federal judge and an attorney-techie spent the morning enlightening us with how iPads are effectively kicked into use in court and the law office.

Different CLE options exist. Teaching on a panel offers credit, as does publication in a recognized journal. One year, I received most of my credits for writing a law review article. I declined an invitation to sit on a panel because the time requirements were too much.

CLE choices include online classes viewable at home or in the office. Live Internet CLE offers interactive opportunity. At a recent national conference, I typed a question into a chat box. One of the panelists, teaching live from a New York office, answered by interpreting what the U.S. Bankruptcy Code requires and doesn’t require in attorney websites.

I’ve seen attorneys roll their eyes at the mention of CLE. I think of my dad. When he graduated from Penn State in the late 1940s as a research and development engineer he traveled the world with his cutting edge technology: converting black and white TV tube factories to color. Forty years later, he taught integrated circuitry and computers.

There’s always something new. There’s always a fresh view to clear cobwebs of conventional thinking. And, for those who think attorneys cram for the bar then spend the rest of their careers coasting, no way.

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Andrew Myers of Derry has law offices in Derry and North Andover. He is a member of the American Association for Justice and the New Hampshire Trial Lawyers Association. Send questions to andrew@attorney-myers.com.