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Want To Work? You’ll Need A License For That.

Last week I addressed state licensing of every occupation that they can think of just to have money, control and authority over the people. It was a great column if you missed it. I know it was great because I got a lot of copull hair oumplaints from government wonks about how wrong I am.

So, having offended most every licensing board in Georgia, let me add another pet peeve. “Continuing Education” requirements are another form of government crack.

I’ll address lawyering first, since I am a lawyer and know something about CLE (continuing legal education). I have taken many years of courses (31 years to be exact) and I’ve taught my fair share of CLE courses on a variety of topics, including ethics and professionalism. I think lawyers ought to get continuing education! I think staying abreast of the law is a good thing. I think it makes one a better lawyer.

But I don’t think it should be mandatory. If you could guarantee that the lawyer who went to the course learned something, maybe, just maybe, you could justify CLE. Alas, I know better. Absent injections of smartness, you can’t be sure that any lawyer learned a darn thing at the CLE. So why mandate it?

Remember crack? Crack is money, control and power.

CLE (or any continuing education requirement) is simply a type of government crack. First, they get to charge fees to take the CLE course, and it ain’t cheap. The one I’m taking this year is going to cost more than a $1,000. Of course, it’s in Colorado at a ski slope, so that might have driven up the cost a bit. But even if I take the course at the State Bar HQ, it’s a couple of hundred dollars just for the course. Then I have to pay the State Bar a fee for recording those hours on my official record.

Control? The State Bar mandates that I take a certain number of trial hours. An ethics hour. A professionalism hour. Now once you’ve got those hours you can take whatever you want. You can learn about labor law, construction law, nursing law, intellectual law, and so much more. But you will take something. If you are the best lawyer in history, you make $500 million a year as the avowed expert in all things legal, you still have to take a course, probably taught by some guy who doesn’t know 1/100 of what you know. That’s control.

Power? I go back to licensing. You will pay “The Man” his due. The State Bar is the one from which all things legal flow. You HAVE to be a member of it. If the State Bar supports decapitation of raccoons, so do you. There is an “opt out” of certain legislative agendas, but if the State Bar supports something as a whole, so do you. They use your fees to promote a cause maybe you don’t support. Their answer to such power wielding? Get more active, become an officer and push your agenda within the bar.

The other part of control is that the CLE business is big business. Millions of dollars are spent on it every year. Imagine how nice it is to get “approved” to teach such a course? Imagine how grateful you are that your course got approved for being taught to thousands of lawyers? Would you not then show your gratitude to those that approved your course?

Now I know I’m getting in trouble with the State Bar. That was not my intent. They gave me an award one time, after all. My point is that hundreds of occupations in Georgia have the same government control exercised over them. Appraisers? Yep. Doctors? Yep. Real estate agents? Yep. Electricians? Yep. And on and on.

Why don’t politicians have mandatory yearly training on the Constitution?

Kelly Burke, master attorney, former district attorney and magistrate judge, is engaged in private practice. He writes about the law, rock’n’roll and politics. These articles are not designed to give legal advice, but are designed to inform the public about how the law affects their daily lives. Contact Kelly at to comment on this article or suggest articles that you’d like to see.

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