Every year lawyers in most states have to get “continuing legal education” credit. In some states lawyers have to get at least 1 hour of “professionalism” credit. This is often in addition to a 1 hour “ethics” requirement.
Ethics CLE seminars tell lawyers what they must do; professionalism seminars tell them what they should do. In Louisiana, most lawyers are annoyed by the professionalism requirement. Some lawyers don't like to be told what they should do, but mostly the professionalism requirement is annoying because it's hard for CLE organizers to find things to interesting, or useful, information that qualifies as “professionalism.”
I have some ideas to spice up the “professionalism” talks.
First, let's frame the range of topics that should qualify as “professionalism”:
- how to maintain cordial interactions with opposing counsel
- how to improve the public perception of the legal profession
- how to improve clients' perception of the legal profession
- how to be more 'professional' generally in dealing with courts, clients, and other lawyers.
Here's something that's seemingly a small thing, but which actually signals a lack of professionalism: having a business email address that ends in .aol, .yahoo, .hotmail, or—yes, even this one—.gmail.
I'm pretty sure that no lawyer wants to have a business email address like that. The problem is they don't know how bad it comes across to some people, and they don't know how to set up an email with their own domain. And some lawyers are afraid of having another email address to deal with.
In short, lawyers need help managing their email. There should be several courses that help them address these sorts of issues, and they should all be eligible for “professionalism” credit. I'll bet if there were such CLE programs that lawyers would flock to them, and not just because it satisfied that hard to meet “professionalism obligation.”