In a letter in the August 15 News, David F. Petrano advocates mandatory CLE in ADA jurisprudence. In support of this, he offers some plausible if unlikely hypotheticals: disabled children coming into the court system, and a wheelchair-bound client facing eminent domain action.
The basic form of the argument is that a potential client could have issues involving areas of law with which the lawyer is unfamiliar. A lawyer must be familiar with the area of law to accept the representation. The lawyer must accept the representation. Therefore, the lawyer must have CLE in that area.
This argument fails when stated so baldly. Few lawyers are familiar with every area of law that might be involved when a stranger walks in the door. I therefore vigorously reexamine his hypotheticals.
Divorce is very common. When his disabled child of divorced parents comes in, does he require CLEs in family law? If I cannot reliably spell "equitable distribution," it might be smarter to refer the matter to someone who does.
His wheelchair-bound eminent domain defendant's government made the decision in secret. Does he now require CLEs in Sunshine Law and Public Records, or does he call in someone like me who handles that area of law?
His argument does not generalize. Unless all lawyers are to take CLEs in all areas of law, we accept that some lawyers will concentrate their practices on areas most interesting to them. Taking CLEs in areas they avoid means that they waste oxygen in the classes they will not use. They are also wasting their CLE time where they could be studying new developments they will use.
It follows that CLE on ADA issues ought not be mandatory.