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VOL. 111 | NO. 113 | Thursday, June 19, 1997

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By SUZANNE THOMPSON Traveling and training Tennessee lawyers can earn continuing legal education credits while watching the palm trees sway By SUZANNE THOMPSON The Daily News Just imagine white sand beaches, blue sky, the crash of the surf. This is a scene that might come to mind when contemplating vacationing but certainly not when thinking about continuing legal education. Still, this is just the setting in which hundreds of Tennessee lawyers are registered to receive CLE credit at the Tennessee Bar Associations 116th annual convention in Destin, Fla., from July 13-18. Tennessee lawyers are required to earn 15 CLE credit hours in order to renew their law licenses. Three of those hours must deal with ethics. The TBA typically holds its annual convention in the state, said Robin Atwood, director of programs for TBA, but TBA president J. Daniel Breen wanted to try something different, Atwood said. "SKI-LE" is a program that TBA has conducted for the past several years which combines pleasure with business education. John Branson, chair of the Memphis Bar Associations CLE Committee, said there are other advantages to holding seminars in this setting beyond getting to hit the beach when the lecture is through. "It doesnt hurt that you get to go to a nice place, and its a business expense. Another part of it is that frequently you get to hear from speakers or hear about topics that you dont hear about in Memphis as often," Branson said. He said out-of-town seminars offer speakers from varied backgrounds. "Sometimes, youll get a national expert, someone with a national reputation, that they will bring in to something like that someone people will come from all over the country to pay to see that we cant attract to Memphis," Branson said. Gil Campbell, executive director of TBA, said he likes the idea of holding CLE seminars in vacation spots particularly when they are held in conjunction with other bar associations. He said TBA co-sponsors several such programs throughout the year with bar associations from other states, such as a cruise in May that went to the Greek isles. That seminar was a cooperative effort with bar associations from Georgia and North Carolina. Another cruise is scheduled in August to Alaska in cooperation with the North Carolina Bar Association. Campbell said this will be the third annual Alaskan CLE cruise. As far as presentation of material, Campbell said the formats are basically the same as local seminars at hotels and convention centers which use speakers or video conferences. Campbell said when using a video conference an attorney also must be on hand directing the seminar. "Its necessary under our CLE guidelines to have a Tennessee lawyer in attendance to comment on any of the situations that result from the videos," Campbell said. Atwood said that the TBA is working to bring on-line seminars to its members and will discuss that at the annual convention in Destin. "Thats definitely the wave of the future," she said about CLE credits on the Web. Atwood said CLE credits also have been offered in England, and TBA plans to begin in 1998 offering the British seminar on a yearly basis. However, this is not the most popular format for earning CLE credits, said Melanie Holcomb, assistant executive director of the Tennessee Commission on CLE and Specialization. "Believe it or not, it really doesnt attract a whole lot of people. There are a lot of lawyers who cannot afford to take that type of time off, as well as pay for it," she said. But, CLE providers continue to give lawyers a choice. "There are a lot of CLE courses held around the world," Holcomb said. Some private companies, such as the Law Education Institute, hold such seminars annually in locations such as Vail, Colo., and the Caribbean, she said. The schedule for the majority of programs of this type features a lecture or seminar in the morning, a luncheon and free time in the afternoon and evening, Holcomb said. She said it is possible for lawyers to earn all their CLE credits for the year in this format. However, no matter where the locale for CLE credits, Campbell said, content is key. "On a cruise its done just like it is anywhere else," he said.
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