Scott Greenfield at Simple Justice put up a post earlier today about the disturbing phenomenon of new lawyers teaching continuing legal education courses. It’s a must-read that brings a story to mind.
Pretty much every year I attend the Arizona Public Defender Association’s Annual Statewide Conference. I am perpetually surprised by the lack of the experience of many of the presenters and the depth of experience of most of those who sit in the audience. One particular situation arising from that continues to amuse me years later.
For a few years, I’ve frequently sought advice from an appellate public defender I met through my wife. To say I admire him greatly would be an understatement. He’s amazing. He’s been licensed since 1975 and is an encyclopedia of criminal law. He’s been the attorney of record in so many published cases that it’s tough to teach a state criminal law CLE without discussing one of them.
I don’t recall the specific CLE he was attending, but it was being taught by someone who started law school when I did. I think the topic was voir dire. I think she hadn’t done a jury trial yet. To her credit, she started off by acknowledging her inexperience and making a comment about how most people in the audience probably knew more than she did. What did that appellate lawyer I know do?
He promptly and conspicuously stood up and walked out.
Having dinner with him and his wife several months later, I brought up that CLE. He didn’t specifically recall it, as he’s walked out on quite a few CLEs over the years, apparently. Luckily, he explained why he probably did it: “I’m too old to waste my time listening to people talking about things they don’t understand.”
See why I said he’s amazing?