Mandatory CLE, Voluntary CLE

Being here, participating here, even lurking here is a constant learning experience. But it’s not mandatory reading and couldn’t be made mandatory. If there were an “L” after our Simon’s names, it would stand for leader, not Legree. [g]

My point? New Jersey has announced that CLE will be mandatory for its lawyers. (The article indicates that CLE is already mandatory in 43 US states.) If even New Jersey sees the merits of mandatory CLE, can Ontario be far behind? (Just kidding, folks. Everybody knows that Ontario’s legal education system for students and lawyers is the best of all worlds. That’s why “The Sopranos” takes place in New Jersey, not Ontario, right?)


  1. Most of my CLE teaching over the years has been in the United States, and I wouldn’t underestimate the administrative burden of administering such a scheme, and I question its results.

    Ontario did a full review at and and its analysis informed the revisions to the admissions process and the Annual Member’s Report.

    From a mandatory perspective, the Canadian system seems largely as Alan Treleaven analysed it at

  2. You’ll pardon me, I trust, for not finding the perferences of the majority of the Ontario profession to not have even mandatory CLE attendance persuasive. That’s just a bit like asking the fox if it wants somebody to watch it guarding the hen house, no?

    I’ll cede practical knowledge of the extra, relevant, burden of administering a mandatory CLE system where all that’s required, more than what we have now, is that the minimum amounts of CLE attendance are mandatory, not voluntary. It doesn’t seem all that much to me. Nobody is suggesting testing (yet). I realize that one can’t police self-study. And, I wouldn’t want to bother trying to keep accurate track of how many hours I devote to specific file related education as opposed to general reading relevant to what I practice in. Truth is that anytime I’m reading anything that could be relevant to what I practice, I’m alert for something that could be relevant to a file I have. Or a question that my clients may ask me in the future. 

    I’ll speak only for the civil litigation bar. It seems to me that the spectre, alone, of mandatory CLE would be enough to lessen the likelihood of situations such as this: Wilson v. Bobbie, 2006 ABQB 22 at para. 42

    On the other, it may be correct that if the need to appear in court and to argue the point wasn’t sufficient to cause the lawyers to consider whether they should find out if there was relevant case law, having to sign up for a course lkely won’t make a difference.

    On yet the other hand, I see reported case after reported case where the first question one asks is: didn’t anybody look in this text, or at that case etc.?

    I know I’m harping on a theme; but most of what goes on in the practitioners’ side of the legal profession, day to day – at least the civil litigation portion – is not brain surgery. It’s not even Goddard-era rocket science.