California Bar Journal
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Board approves plan to poll members on MCLE program
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In an effort to determine what California lawyers think about the State Bar’s continuing education program, a commission studying MCLE will conduct a telephone poll within the next two months.

The board of governors last month approved the expenditure of $40,000 to poll about 600 lawyers.

“The issue that concerns the commission the most is what our members think of the quality of the program,” said David Heilbron, a former State Bar president who now chairs the study group. Heilbron said despite the group’s best efforts, which included a series of sparsely attended meetings throughout the state, they still don’t know what lawyers think about MCLE.

“I think it would be presumptuous to tell our members what they think without asking them,” he said. He added that he’s not worried about the results. “It’s a mistake to be afraid of information,” he said.

Because the bar’s MCLE requirements affect every active lawyer in California, Heilbron said it is important that decisions about the program be well-informed. The cost of the survey averages out to 33 cents per member.

The commission will seek views about whether courses are practical, the quality of teaching, and cost and availability, among other things. A poll of 600 provides a statistically meaningful sample.

Heilbron said he anticipates asking lawyers about a dozen questions on the survey.

The bar’s MCLE requirements have been a target of criticism by some members, who find them onerous and unnecessary. But Heilbron said he anticipates receiving constructive comments. “The value of education is recognized,” he said. “How best to achieve it is the question.”

He said pollsters will ask for suggestions about improving the program.