In order to be licensed as an attorney, a person must have graduated from an accredited law school, pass the bar examination, take an oath and (of course) pay the required fee. In order to continue to be a licensed attorney, one must complete 45 hours of continuing education every three years.
Judges are licensed attorneys. We, also, are required to accumulate 45 hours of education every three years. One of the most efficient ways of doing this is to provide a condensed course of instruction tailored specifically for judges. Thus, the Minnesota District Judges Association and the Supreme Court Continuing Education office each provide an annual three-day conference for judges to obtain most, if not all, of their annual education requirements.
This education conference also enables the Judges Association to have their membership business meetings. It is also an opportunity to network with other judges from across the state to compare notes and pick up tips on doing our job more effectively and efficiently. Providing this training to judges in a statewide conference is a very cost-effective way to provide our required education.
This week, I am attending the annual conference of the District Judges Association. I will obtain most of my required education credits for the year. I know I will learn tips from other judges that will make me a better judge. Some of that education will occur in the education classes offered during the conference. Much of the education will occur during meals, breaks and in the hospitality room.
Many days, I am the only judge in the courthouse. It is very helpful to be able to bounce ideas off of a colleague when there is a particularly difficult legal matter to decide, or an unusual set of facts. That is one reason why I especially look forward to this gathering.
25 years ago, when I first attended this conference, my conversations usually involved “What are your children up to these days?” For the past several years, it has been “When are you planning to pull the plug and retire?” I expect this will be my last District Judges Conference as an active judge. So, not only will I learn some new ideas, catch up on what has been going on in my friends’ lives, but I will start to say good-bye.
I am looking forward to recharging my batteries.
* * * * *
Next week: I Pledge Allegiance