To The Editor:
In an April 14 commentary from your advisory board entitled “Better Communication From CBA,” you state that proposed rules for mandatory continuing legal education “are not being widely circulated outside the sponsoring section for comments before implementation is sought,” and that the “CBA [has proposed] new rules which affect many lawyers without the membership being aware and having an opportunity to comment.” This is simply not the case.
MCLE has been a subject of discussion at the CBA and with its membership for almost 20 years since the first proposal was approved by the CBA in 1989. In 2003 and 2004, then president-elect Fred Ury met with many CBA sections individually and discussed mandatory CLE with very positive responses. As president, Mr. Ury continued these discussions with sections and committees and wrote about MCLE in his president’s message in the May issue of Connecticut Lawyer magazine. The Task Force of the Future of the Profession discussed the topic within the scope of their work as well. In March 2006, the CBA’s CLE Committee completed a white paper on the topic of MCLE. As a result of the findings of this white paper, then-CBA president Lou Pepe asked the CBA’s CLE Committee to draft proposed practice rule book amendments. The fact that this committee was working on proposed MCLE rules was discussed at several House of Delegates meetings in 2006.
The rules were presented at the January 2007 House of Delegates meeting as a report for review by the House. The topic of MCLE was discussed at the meeting and House of Delegates members were asked to reach out to their constituents to get feedback on the proposed rule and send the feedback to the CLE Committee. There was no vote at this time. In the March 2007 issue of Connecticut Lawyer magazine, Norm Janes wrote about the concept of MCLE and discussed that it had been raised at the January House of Delegates meeting.
The CLE Committee received some very important feedback from the membership through their representatives that it then presented at the March meeting of the House of Delegates along with its proposal. The MCLE proposal was discussed, put to a vote and passed with the amendments at the House of Delegates meeting on March 12, 2007. After the proposed rule was passed, communications were sent to the entire membership via the CBA Weekly e-newsletter as well as posted on the home page of the CBA web site. Both included links to the proposed rules voted on as well as a link to the revised rules a few days later once the amendments were included. In addition to these communications, the CLE Committee personally met with a number of CBA section meetings, local bar associations, the Connecticut Council of Bar Presidents, and other groups interested in the CBA’s proposed rules. These efforts will continue and it is our understanding that the issue will be taken up by the Judicial Branch in the fall.
The Connecticut Bar Association is comprised more than 10,000 members and has a democratic governance structure designed specifically to allow all members to voice their opinions through their representatives. The House of Delegates consists of CBA members who were elected by their constituents in their district to speak and vote on behalf of their behalf about CBA positions and policies. These delegates are responsible for reaching out to their constituents for input on upcoming topics and votes in the House of Delegates. Two-way communication with members is very important to the Connecticut Bar Association and the governance of the CBA was set up with this in mind.
William H. Prout