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IBA: Section CLE Pilot Program Launched for 2013

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Times are changing in the world of mandatory continuing legal education (CLE). At one time, few providers for continuing legal education existed in the state. Now, a simple Google search for continuing legal education in Indianapolis nets more than 80,000 results.

At the same time, membership dues invoices for associations across the board are increasingly being scrutinized, and the ability to articulate clear member benefits plays a more important role than ever in attracting and retaining members. IndyBar leadership takes the responsibility of communicating a clear value proposition to members seriously and is committed to a constant self-evaluation of the bar’s delivery of benefits and services to members.

Though the IndyBar’s membership remains robust, increasing year after year, and attendance at CLE programming is steady, consideration of these factors recently propelled bar leadership into a discussion on how the bar can continue to deliver unparalleled value to Indianapolis practitioners. Out of this discussion came a pilot program to test the waters of bundling section membership and continuing legal education.

The pilot program, which will be tested in 2013 with four IndyBar sections—the Appellate Practice Section, the Family Law Section, the Government Practice Section and the Real Estate and Land Use Section, will call for a small increase in section dues, which will in turn allow section members to attend all one-hour brownbag programming presented by the section at no cost. The participating sections have committed to presenting a minimum of four one-hour programs in 2013.

Through this pilot program, the IndyBar hopes to help members:

Save money. While section dues will increase by a small amount, members of participating sections will see savings of at least $100 per year versus paying per credit hour for each section program.

Save time. No more pulling out a credit card to pay for individual programs or submitting individual invoices for payment.

Invest their money in what matters. Members can pay one lump sum for their section affiliation, providing identity for their practice area and CLE that is meaningful and relevant.

“This is an effort aimed at enhancing member value, providing more reasons to attend the IndyBar’s popular one-hour CLEs, and increasing the flow of substantive legal information through our sections,” says IndyBar President Scott Chinn. “It is also part of the IndyBar’s multi-phase communications plan to diversify the ways we communicate substantive information to our members.”

By bundling CLE programs with section membership, section leadership will also be empowered to take an active role in achieving section member engagement and involvement. Rather than viewing planning and presentation of CLE programming as an expected function, section leadership will be asked to consider how their programming is serving their members, in addition to considering additional member benefits that could arise out of CLE programming, like resources or articles that relate to a seminar topic.

“Over the past several years, our section has generally made it a point to present six one-hour CLEs on an annual basis. Since one hour CLE is one of the focuses of the pilot project, we thought it was a great way to incorporate what we were already doing with our continued effort to provide more value to our section members,” says Eric Engebretson, current chair of the IndyBar Family Law Section. “We believe that the low cost CLE offered via the pilot program, coupled with the various other events we offer for free to our members throughout the year, make membership in the Family Law Section a great value and benefit to our members.”

Bar leadership recognizes that this change brings with it numerous challenges and opportunities, which resulted in the decision to test the program with just a small portion of the bar in the upcoming year. The results of the pilot program will be closely monitored throughout the year, and careful consideration will be given at the conclusion of the pilot program to determine whether it will be expanded to all IndyBar sections in subsequent years.•

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  2. Yes diversity is so very important. With justice Rucker off ... the court is too white. Still too male. No Hispanic justice. No LGBT justice. And there are other checkboxes missing as well. This will not do. I say hold the seat until a physically handicapped Black Lesbian of Hispanic heritage and eastern religious creed with bipolar issues can be located. Perhaps an international search, with a preference for third world candidates, is indicated. A non English speaker would surely increase our diversity quotient!!!

  3. First, I want to thank Justice Rucker for his many years of public service, not just at the appellate court level for over 25 years, but also when he served the people of Lake County as a Deputy Prosecutor, City Attorney for Gary, IN, and in private practice in a smaller, highly diverse community with a history of serious economic challenges, ethnic tensions, and recently publicized but apparently long-standing environmental health risks to some of its poorest residents. Congratulations for having the dedication & courage to practice law in areas many in our state might have considered too dangerous or too poor at different points in time. It was also courageous to step into a prominent and highly visible position of public service & respect in the early 1990's, remaining in a position that left you open to state-wide public scrutiny (without any glitches) for over 25 years. Yes, Hoosiers of all backgrounds can take pride in your many years of public service. But people of color who watched your ascent to the highest levels of state government no doubt felt even more as you transcended some real & perhaps some perceived social, economic, academic and professional barriers. You were living proof that, with hard work, dedication & a spirit of public service, a person who shared their same skin tone or came from the same county they grew up in could achieve great success. At the same time, perhaps unknowingly, you helped fellow members of the judiciary, court staff, litigants and the public better understand that differences that are only skin-deep neither define nor limit a person's character, abilities or prospects in life. You also helped others appreciate that people of different races & backgrounds can live and work together peacefully & productively for the greater good of all. Those are truths that didn't have to be written down in court opinions. Anyone paying attention could see that truth lived out every day you devoted to public service. I believe you have been a "trailblazer" in Indiana's legal community and its judiciary. I also embrace your belief that society's needs can be better served when people in positions of governmental power reflect the many complexions of the population that they serve. Whether through greater understanding across the existing racial spectrum or through the removal of some real and some perceived color-based, hope-crushing barriers to life opportunities & success, movement toward a more reflective representation of the population being governed will lead to greater and uninterrupted respect for laws designed to protect all peoples' rights to life, liberty & the pursuit of happiness. Thanks again for a job well-done & for the inevitable positive impact your service has had - and will continue to have - on countless Hoosiers of all backgrounds & colors.

  4. Diversity is important, but with some limitations. For instance, diversity of experience is a great thing that can be very helpful in certain jobs or roles. Diversity of skin color is never important, ever, under any circumstance. To think that skin color changes one single thing about a person is patently racist and offensive. Likewise, diversity of values is useless. Some values are better than others. In the case of a supreme court justice, I actually think diversity is unimportant. The justices are not to impose their own beliefs on rulings, but need to apply the law to the facts in an objective manner.

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