A proposal to require new lawyers to participate in a day of career training was met with some push back this week by the Rules Committee for the Superior Court.
The proposal for a so-called "boot camp" for new lawyers came recently from a Rules Committee task force that had been looking into whether the state should adopt minimum continuing legal education for lawyers. The task force, chaired by Judge Elliot Solomon, noted deep divisions among lawyers in the state over MCLE and recommended that it's not something that should be pursued at this time.
Instead, the task force recommended creating a rule to require a basic skills course for the estimated 700 newly admitted lawyers in the state each year.
In discussing the proposal, several Rules Committee committee members expressed concerns this week about costs to run the boot camp program. That expense, they said, said would fall upon the already strapped Judicial Branch.
The program "would be free to the participants, but it wouldn't be free to the Branch," Judge Jon M. Alander said, questioning why the court system should be responsible for training lawyers
Alander wasn't convinced that requiring MCLE for just some attorneys was the right thing to do. When other committee members pointed out that Connecticut is only one of a few states that doesn't have MCLE, Alander shot back that Connecticut might be a state "that doesn't need MCLE."
"Sometimes doing nothing is better," he said, "rather than assuming responsibility for something that is someone else's responsibility."
Other Rules Committee members said voluntary CLE programs were preferable. If the mandatory programs are approved, some noted, the state would have to enforce the rule by investigating when a lawyer failed to complete the MCLE requirement.
Another Rules Committee member, Judge Barbara N. Bellis, said it was clear that the committee was far from agreeing on the topic of requiring continuing legal education for any bar member. With that in mind, the committee decided it would table the discussion until its March meeting. If the Rules Committee decides at that point to consider requiring a training day for new lawyers, a public hearing will be held in May.
If the committee then votes to adopt the rule, the matter will face a vote by the entire state bench. That meeting typically occurs in June. While that date seems a long way off, committee members acknowledged that a consensus on how to proceed is a long way off.
"It's getting down to crunch time," said state Supreme Court Justice Dennis G. Eveleigh, the committee chair.