|Posted on November 30, 2010 at 2:36 PM|
Subject: The International Bar Association has, at its website, open access to several interview films on topics of interest to international attorneys. I think this is great. Open access to law-related information of special interest to attorneys means that the information is surely spread further - to those in the legal profession who cannot afford the cost of online 'webinars' and courses, and to those who cannot even afford the cost of professional association membership. Here is a link to their page of interviews concerning international human rights, with one recent interview, with law professor Fu Hualing, on present related legal issues of concern in China: http://www.ibanet.org/Article/Detail.aspx?ArticleUid=4dcfb472-ae82-4bf7-8e01-654115ac751c#human .
It's just as good a time as any to expand on this point.
Many lawyers are struggling in this global economic climate, while coming from countries with mixed affordability standards. Open access to legal webinars and informational/ educational interviews is a sign that the profession is sufficiently open to provide what can also be seen as globalizing - and harmonizing - services. Informational and educational materials available with free access help international attorneys to foster and continue their work for 'the rule of law' in the world, work which is more critical now than at any other time in our history.
Cash-poor attorneys of the . . . western world
One way in which the effect of lawyer's financial constraints has been seen is in the American Bar Association's revised membership payment structure, still not low enough for me to afford to belong. Another is to provide for a small amount of professional development coursework which can be taken online - either free or at very affordable rates - so that attorneys can successfully maintain their required continuing legal education. This effort, in Illinois, resulted in what might be called a 'last-minute' offer of suffiicient hours of instruction online - to meet a summer deadline for specific CLE hours. This is an offer I am guessing that hundreds took.
Let's go a bit further.
More should be done to lower the cost of annual attorney registrations. In Illinois, for instance, the cost of maintaining an active attorney registration is upwards of $300 per year, even if one is practicing only a small portion of time. I don't think I am stretching it to suggest that this is a cost many part-time working attorneys marginally afford. The cost of registration covers attorney misconduct work, and so is used to assure that professional standards of conduct are maintained. However, the cost might be more fairly distributed, reflecting in some way the amount of attorney work conducted by the attorney needing to maintain an active license.
I applaud the IBA on their movement to provide online access to significant law-related films and materials irregardless of IBA membership, and urge the American Bar Association to do more of the same.
Let's create an affordable structure for lawyers to (1) practice law, and (2) continue their legal education, both online and offline - even when they are without the financial means to pay. Period.