Tuesday, May 14, 2019

It’s not ALL about the CLE credits!

It’s CLE season, and half of us need to report to the judiciary our last two years’ credits by June 30.  So needless to say, there is a hustle and bustle here at the VBA in the spring.  But CLE’s are not about just checking boxes or hitting play on a DVD to hit the 20-hour mark.  There is so much more to a CLE offering, and the VBA prides itself on providing the whole package!

Take, for example, last Friday, which was Family Law Day. The full-day CLE covered representing people with disabilities, current case law, relocation issues and mediation.  But the event was so much more.  Much of the case law presentation erupted into full conversations among the attendees concerning the standards, their own similar cases and finer points of how the decisions could be applied.  In the mediation sessions, attendees broke into smaller groups to discuss whether their practices fall mainly into which of three categories: 1) taking full responsibility, 2) being open to learning or 3) having fun and what are the pulls from category to category.  Attendees shared personal stories, bonded and two even found out they were in the same law school class!

The food was plentiful and the conversations at lunch ran the gamut of current and past case law, bar exams, mentors and practice issues.  Many side-bars were had in the hall throughout the day.  While the event was recorded, the digital library will neither be as long, nor capture the comradery that wove through each segment.  We can, of course, share the pictures below, so you’ll be sure not to miss the next one!

Sure, CLEs are about learning, and we always strive to get the brightest and best of our colleagues to share their wisdom with attendees.  We can’t thank our members enough for volunteering to present at our programs throughout the year.  But CLE’s are also about having fun, networking, sharing stories, helping each other figure out complex cases, catching up, finding referrals, eating and being present in Vermont’s uniquely fabulous community of lawyers.

We know it is hard to find time out of our busy schedules to attend live CLEs.  Hearing the positive stories from our events convinces us that live CLEs are good for us, so we will just have to make the time. Just as we find time for family, meditation, wellness activities, the outdoors, exercise and all those things that are good for us, why not combine our required learning with a bit of fun?  Hope to see you all soon!

Friday, May 10, 2019

RCBA Annual Law Day Mock Trial

The Rutland County Bar Association continued its 30+ year annual tradition of a Law Day Mock Trial hosting over 200 area 5th graders from seven different schools on May 8, 2019.  The program featured a morning and an afternoon performance at the Rutland County Courthouse. The Avengers-themed case of “Thanos v. Shuri of Wakanda” featured Thanos suing Shuri for damages suffered after she allegedly damaged Thanos’ infinity gauntlet.

Rutland lawyer Shannon Lamb (Pratt Vreeland Kennelly Martin & White) represented the archvillain Thanos, played convincingly by Rutland lawyer Tom Bixby (Law Office of Thomas Bixby) in full Masters of the Universe garb. Rutland Probate Judge Karl Anderson wrote the script and represented Shuri, Princess of Wakanda, played enthusiastically by Vermont Assistant Attorney General Phyllisa Jones Prescott.  Rutland lawyer Elijah LaChance (Ryan Smith & Carbine) dressed the part of Rocket, the snarky raccoon, who testified as a fact witness and also as a translator for Groot, the talking tree. Groot was played quietly by Rutland lawyer Jim Levins (Tepper Dardeck Levins & Fitzsimons), as Groot is only capable of repeating “I am Groot,” thereby the need for a creative translator.

RCBA President Stephanie Lorentz (Lorentz & Associates) welcomed the students at each performance, after which students were randomly selected to serve as jurors. After each trial, Presiding Judge David Barra fielded many insightful questions from the students in attendance while the jurors deliberated. At least one student was flabbergasted that the cast and crew were real lawyers! Rutland Unit Law Clerk Kathy Zhou served as bailiff, including assisting the jurors in their deliberations.

The morning’s trial ended in a hung jury and the afternoon’s trial resulted in a defendant’s verdict. The annual Law Day Mock Trial in Rutland has been a great way to introduce thousands of students to our system of justice in an entertaining and educational way. Each student received a program that included a glossary of legal terms, the listing of parties and a schematic of the courtroom. The Rutland Herald published a story about the production that you can view HERE.

Please feel free to share any other Law Day activities that you would like the VBA to publicize.  Enjoy the pictures below.

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Something for Everyone!

Last week the VBA went back to the basics with our biannual Basic Skills program.  Being that it is CLE season, we had a varied selection of new and established attorneys at our program.  Why should a seasoned attorney attend Basic Skills, you ask?  Well, I asked a few and they replied that the program was fantastic and they were glad they attended! One attendee spoke of how the program fed their intellectual curiosity. Each took away something for their practices, even if they didn't concentrate in the fields of real estate, family law, trial practice or administrative law. 

The note-taking was fast and furious and questions flew. One presenter dared to end nearly nine minutes early (a huge no-no under my CLE watchdog eye), but instead ended up engaging in an 11-minute Q&A session that had to be cut short to keep on schedule! Attendees got to mix and mingle over the full hot breakfast and lunch and during the delicious healthy afternoon snack. Success all around!

Still need CLE credits? Don't forget our 2-day Solo & Small Firm Conference (aka the "Smolo") on 5/23 & 524 at the beautiful and relaxing Basin Harbor Resort.  8.5 hours of CLE, including 1.5 of ethics, time to network and relax, and tons of law practice management (and wellness) CLEs to enhance your practices and make them more profitable! Check out the flyer at www.vba.myevent.com !

We've also got Family Law Day on May 10th, Procrastinators' Day on June 13th (with 2.0 Ethics credits) and a 3.0 hour CLE on public student digital speech on June 21st!  Curious about the new notary statute? We will have a webinar on June 19th. Get all the info you need on our website at www.vtbar.org or call us any time. 

Enjoy pictures from Basic Skills below.  We hope to see you soon!