Continuing Legal Education
On February 14th, eight men and ten women were “Called to the Bar”; meaning that they were enrolled as full members of the Law Society of Newfoundland and Labrador. They now are entitled to practice law in the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador.
For these men and women, this event marked the happy celebration of the successful completion of many years of rigorous education and “on the job” training. Like every other lawyer currently practicing in our Province, they would have completed three years of fulltime study at Law School (or, for students who obtain their legal training outside Canada, an equivalent program of study).
Previous to that, as an academic prerequisite for Law School, they would have completed an undergraduate degree. Following Law School, they still had to complete a one-year apprenticeship with a senior lawyer (called “articling”) and a six-week bar admission course put off by the Law Society. All of this academic and practical training is intended to ensure that every new lawyer is properly qualified to undertake the heavy responsibilities of legal practice.
The public can thus be confident that newly-minded lawyers have the education needed to practice law. What, however, about senior lawyers (such as Budden & Associates partner Geoff Budden, called to the bar in 1989)? How can the public be confident that lawyers are keeping abreast of current developments in the law?
The Law Society shares this concern. It thus imposes a requirement on all practicing lawyers to complete, annually, a program of “Continuing Legal Education”.
Practicing lawyers are required to complete not less than fifteen hours per year of such education. There is recognition of the many ways in which such learning is gained in our modern world; “Participation in seminars, courses, educational components of conferences, webcasts, telecast, or online courses, etc. would all be eligible activities, provided the content requirements… are met”. There is even allowance, to a limited extent, for knowledge gained through teaching and self-study. The Law Society takes this requirement for Continuing Legal Education quite seriously. Practicing lawyers who fail to meet these obligations run the risk of disciplinary measures and other consequences.
At Budden & Associates, we focus our continuing legal education on our primary practice area: representing survivors of abuse and other forms of harm in claims for compensation. We have carefully considered the available options and, while our lawyers attend and speak at a variety of events in Canada and beyond, we make a real point to, each year, attend the annual conference of The National Crime Victim Bar Association.
Although this organization is American, most of the topics covered and presentations given are equally applicable to Canada and, specifically, Newfoundland and Labrador. Some of the topics covered at the most recent conference, held in December 2019, in Denver, Colorado, include:
These presentations are given by accomplished, experienced trial lawyers and by trial-hardened experts from fields such as psychology and economics. Equally as important and helpful are scheduled brainstorming sessions, often for particular groups such as “young lawyers”, which allow us to test ideas and present problems to supportive and skilled colleagues practicing in our area of interest. These discussions often continue through lunches, dinners and evening socializing, as we encourage and learn from each other.
Geoff has attended seven such Conferences; Will Hiscock and Paul Kennedy have each attended six; and Allison Conway has attended four. We are all looking forward to the 2020 Conference in Atlanta, Georgia!
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