Constant Legal Education – My Take on South Carolina’s Continuing Legal Education (CLE) Requirements

Law is a constantly evolving field.  A case may be published by the South Carolina Court of Appeals, South Carolina Supreme Court, or other such court, that can have a huge and immediate impact on how a particular law, theory, or other such matter is interpreted by lower South Carolina Courts. In my opinion, an attorney can also gain enormous knowledge and potential legal and/or case theories that can be applied in current cases by paying attention to theories that other lawyers may have tried/argued.

The South Carolina Supreme Court requires that lawyers continue their education beyond law school and the Bar Examination (a three-day ordeal at the time I took it), by attending and/or participating in a certain amount of annual Continuing Legal Education.

I invest a significant amount of time trying to stay as current as possible in the areas of law that I practice in, and I also occasionally “jump” outside of these areas when I feel that an area of law or seminar may simply interest me or give me more insight into an area that I practice in. My goal is to learn at least one (1) new thing at each CLE (Continuing Legal Education) that I can apply to my practice, with the hope that it will make me a better advocate and counselor for my current and future clients.

CLE requirements are generally completed in a reporting period that the Supreme Court has designated.  In the 2011 reporting period (since March 1, 2011), as of today (January 22, 2012), I have attended and/or participated in the following CLEs:

-Training for Attorneys Subject to Appointments in Abuse and Neglect Cases – 14th Circuit;

-2011 Ethics Update/Trust Accounting and Financial Record Keeping in South Carolina;

-Social Security Disability;

-What Family Court Judges Want You to Know (one of the speakers at this event was Judge Peter Fuge, a Family Court Judge from Beaufort County in the 14th Judicial Circuit);

-Litigating the Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Claim;

-Plaintiff’s Guide to Dog Bite Litigation;

-Effective Discovery Motions and Tactics 101;

-SSI v. SSDI: Benefits and Eligibility;

-Bankruptcy in Divorce;

-Hospital/Medical Liens in Injury Settlements;

-Substance Abuse and Other Addictions in the Legal Profession.

Added together (the CLEs are not all “worth” the same credit-wise), these credits were more than double what is required by the South Carolina Supreme Court for the current reporting period.  I am also currently enrolled to participate on January 27, 2012, in a live six (6) hour Guardian ad Litem update in Columbia, South Carolina, so that I may continue to act as a Guardian ad Litem for minor children in South Carolina Family Courts for another year without waiver from a Family Court Judge.

While these CLEs are often expensive and time-consuming, I truly believe in the process, and I believe that it is important to my clients to know that I make the investment in a constant education.

This article was written by Dustin Lee, Esquire, a South Carolina licensed attorney.

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Lee Law Firm, LLC is a South Carolina based law firm that advocates for and counsels clients throughout South Carolina and its Low Country, primarily in Beaufort and Jasper counties (including Hilton Head Island, Bluffton, Daufuskie Island, Ridgeland, Callawassie Island, Okatie, Hardeeville, and Beaufort).