Chief Justice Shepard Accepts the ICLEF 2012 Excellence in CLE Award

Chief Justice Shepard’s Excellence in Continuing Legal Education Award

As The Honorable Randall T. Shepard steps down as Chief Justice of Indiana it is only fitting that ICLEF expresses appreciation for his leadership in the continuing legal education realm.

Mark McNeely, president of ICLEF and Shelbyville attorney, recently presented to Justice Shepard the Excellence in Continuing Legal Education Award recognizing his contributions over the 25+ years he served as the leader of Indiana’s highest court. This award recognizes the Chief Justice for being one who has actively participated and worked to enhance the quality and professionalism of continuing legal education in the State of Indiana.


President of ICLEF Mark McNeely shakes hands with retiring Chief Justice Randall T. Shepard, after presenting the CJ with the ICLEF 2012 Excellence in CLE Award

We were pleased that on this occasion Justice Shepard agreed to have a conversation on video discussing his experiences and visions so that we could share them widely with not only his fellow lawyers, but the general public.

Taking a step back, Justice Shepard offered his reflections on the establishment of mandatory continuing legal education in Indiana in the mid 1980s, when, as the newly-selected Chief Justice, he provided guidance to the members of the Bar as they structured these new standards. He recalls that Indiana lawyers came together to establish the MCLE rule around a consensus that this new requirement of 36 hours of CLE each three years would help maintain high professional standards. Coinciding with that movement, the judges of Indiana recognized that they should not be exempt and established their own educational rules.

As we discussed this major shift in the landscape for lawyers, Justice Shepard pointed out that once the rules were established, it created a market that gave people more choices than they ever had before. He called the situation “an unexpected bonus.” The lawyers of Indiana took pride in the idea of MCLE and became the force behind this different kind of education. They continue to make it “valuable in the widest sense.” In the short video below, we share with you his thoughts on the subject.

Commenting on how Indiana CLE providers maintain quality programming with increasing marketplace competition, Justice Shepard lauds the support and guidance of the Commission on Continuing Legal Education. Additionally, he mentions that the profession itself pushes for high quality, resulting in the natural attrition of those that don’t meet those demands. Chief Justice Shepard generously acknowledged ICLEF’s efforts to maintain the high standards of CLE for Indiana. He notes also that each provider deals in the constant aspect of the overall framework of CLE meshing with the realities of how adults learn. “How to engage students in learning is the universal challenge for all providers.” His perspectives are shared in the below video.

Of course, a discussion of today’s educational endeavors wouldn’t be complete without the subject of technology. We asked Justice Shepard for his thoughts on the extent and format of technology in CLE programming. Is there a balance issue? Could the benefits of the one-on-one interaction be detrimentally effected if online CLE becomes more dominate? The Chief Justice expressed recognition of the enhancements of CLE offerings through new technological delivery systems, but believes it is yet to be determined the extent to which those advancements will take the place of the classroom interaction. “We’ve been right to be open to new ways we receive information….But the rhetoric may be bigger than the reality.” Take a moment to reflect on technology with the Chief Justice:

In this effort to extend the benefits of his guidance even further, we asked for his vision for the future of CLE in Indiana. He is optimistic. As always, he had insightful thoughts on the “new normal” and on how he believes that “impulse and necessity will line up in the same direction.”

Further, in the interest of preserving professionalism in CLE, we want to take a moment to ask Justice Shepard if he will have some time to explore new roles with ICLEF. Thankfully, education will continue to play an important role in his future as the retired Chief Justice will join the Indiana University Public Policy Institute as first executive in residence. But CLE and lawyer education will always play a role in his life…

ICLEF is proud to initiate this Excellence in Continuing Legal Education award by sharing Chief Justice Shepard’s reminiscences and his visions for the future. Again, we offer the gratitude of Indiana’s lawyers for his efforts of innovative leadership and the pursuit of excellence in our state’s continuing legal education. Wherever the path may lead, best wishes.

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