Why You Should Care…if Your Lawyer Attends Conferences (excerpt)
If you are a professional, you attend conferences. That’s what you do. Some conferences are for team building, some educational, some are just for the fun of it. So, why should anyone care if their attorney attends any legal conferences?
One reason is…Continuing Legal Education, better known as CLE’s. Yes, lawyers need continuing education credentials for licensing requirements, like many other professionals.
To practice law in the State of Colorado: A lawyer must obtain Continuing Legal Education credits (CLE’s). This is in accordance with RULE 260 OF THE COLORADO RULES OF CIVIL PROCEDURE (Colorado Supreme Court) Unless an attorney files for inactive status, they must comply with the requirements of Rule 260 (Colorado). If an attorney takes inactive status, CLE requirements are suspended for the time they are inactive. HOWEVER, an attorney may not practice law in Colorado if the license is inactive.
A lawyer in Colorado must earn forty-five general credits over a compliance period of three calendar years. Seven of these credits must be in legal ethics. Credits are units of value assigned to a qualifying activity usually on the basis of the time a lawyer is involved in the activity. The CLE credit requirements vary from state to state.
According to the Colorado Supreme Court: “Continuing legal education (CLE) credits are earned by taking part in certain organized legal educational activities. To receive credit for the activity, its primary focus must be the increase of professional competence of registered attorneys and judges, and it must deal with subject matter directly related to the practice of law or the performance of judicial duties.”
Most lawyers attend several conferences each year (and I can assure you, they are not free). Each discipline of law holds conferences. For Estate Planning lawyers there are the ACTEC (American College of Trust and Estate Counsel) conferences (among others.)
But I have not answered the question posed…why should you care about legal conferences? Let’s take the example of an estate planning lawyer. Besides knowing that your lawyer has the credentials to practice law in your state you would want a lawyer who is on the cutting edge of information – one who keeps abreast of the hot topics that would affect your estate plan. Your lawyer should have intimate knowledge of changes in tax laws that affect your future and those of your heirs. You would not want a lawyer who is using ten year old law books as sources of reference material!
Another benefit for you is that, during the conference your lawyer is exposed to a range of presenters, each a specialist and recognized in their field. Attendance gives your lawyer a perspective they might not have by just reading legal articles or talking to their partners. Often global legal firms are represented at conferences as speakers. This is important for anyone with an estate that is ‘international’, holdings in other countries or residences in countries outside of the United States. Attendance at conferences overcomes any ‘local bias.’ A legal conference draws attendees from across the nation (and from other countries) and as such a lawyer gets a broader perspective than just their own state’s legal issues. Changes happening in one state might very well quickly become legal issues in YOUR state.
So, the bottom line is – Yes, it is important to you, the client, for your attorney to attend legal conferences on a regular basis.
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