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On Continuing Legal & Judicial Education and Why We Joined This Conversation

Graphics of people working with text that says, "Legal Professionals.  This content's for you."

In 2023, our team set an intention to offer continuing legal and judicial education. Some people were skeptical, mostly because in Indiana, CLE and CJE is often provided by bar associations, law schools, the Indiana Supreme Court, and non-profit organizations with the sole mission of offering continuing education. So why would a coaching and consulting start up jump into this game?

The answer is simple: We have expertise and perspectives to offer. Also, our team is chock full of lifelong learners, so learning and sharing what we've learned falls squarely within our combined strengths and values.

In 2023, we offered three one-hour ethics CLEs as well as the six-month cohort program, The Inner Work of Judging. The CLEs are available for on-demand replay and all are freely-offered.

Silhouettes of people and a skyline in the background with "Supplier Diversity: The Missing Piece of Your DEI Strategy; On-Demand Replay" in the foreground

The first is Supplier Diversity: The Missing Piece of Your DEI Strategy. In this program, Lesley and Megan outline the history, law, and reasons why supplier diversity is an important, yet often overlooked, part of DEI strategy. Supplier diversity, much like Buy Local or Buy American initiatives, is all about individuals and organizations putting their money where their mouth is. How I spend my money, and who I spend it with, is a reflection of my priorities and values. What does your spending say about you? What does the spending of the organization you work for say about it?

Cover of Professional Identity and Occupational Well-Being CLE with Speakers Lun (Asian woman), Kendra (African American woman), and Steve (White man)

The second is a panel discussion, moderated by Loretta, that included our friends Lun Kham Pieper, Kendra Key, and Steve David discussing Professional Identity and Occupational Well-Being. We offered it during Well-Being in Law Week in May as a contribution to the conversation of lawyer, law student, and judicial officer well-being. At a national level, this conversation tends to center big law firms and more traditional ideas of legal practice. Here's the thing, though-- in my experience, each lawyer's practice (and judge's practice) is as individual as the person who's practicing. There are similarities, of course, but each of us brings our own experiences to the practice. That's one of the reasons it's endlessly fascinating, and it was such a pleasure to hear about the journeys of Lun, Kendra, and Steve in each of their legal practices. Maybe you'll see a bit of your practice reflected in their stories?

Photos of speakers on panel of Well-Being in the Legal Profession: Oxygen, Aspirin, or Bling?-- James (white man), Mark (white man), and Loretta (white woman)

The third is Well-Being in the Legal Profession: Oxygen, Aspirin, or Bling?, a panel discussion featuring our friends, James Bell and Mark Carnell (aka my Boo), with Loretta moderating, cosponsored by the Indiana State Bar Association's Well-Being Committee. James is a defense attorney who represents attorneys and judicial officers who find themselves in conversation with the Indiana Supreme Court Disciplinary Commission or Judicial Qualifications Commission, and Mark is a staff attorney at the Disciplinary Commission. We were curious, from their perspectives, if there's been a noticeable shift in the discussion around well-being in the legal profession here in Indiana. Do they sense that prioritizing well-being is like oxygen, or essential? Or is well-being prioritized when a legal practitioner experiences discomfort in their practice, like taking an aspirin to reduce pain? Or is spending time and effort on well-being more bling, something that legal practitioners do when they've got extra time? Dear legal practitioners, which do you think your well-being is right now? Oxygen, aspirin, or bling?

Five people seated around a table-- one man, four women
The Inner Work of Judging, Cohort 1. Clockwise, from left: Drew Bloch, Polly Beeson, Jaime Oss, Holly Harvey, and Helen Marchal

Five judicial officers said YES! to our invitation to be part of the inaugural cohort of The Inner Work of Judging and then spent the last six months of 2023 working with the curriculum of the program. We are still processing their feedback and data, which we'll publish in the coming weeks. One thing is clear: each of them found the program supportive to the important work they do everyday across Indiana "calling balls and strikes in the legal conflicts of Hoosiers," as my friend, Judge Peter Nugent, puts it.

The applications for Cohorts 2 and 3 are currently open, so if you are a judicial officer in any jurisdiction, I hope you'll take a look at the program and consider joining us.

And finally, our first CLE offering of 2024 is coming up on Wednesday, January 31! Entitled What's on Your Well-Being Menu?, Loretta and I will introduce the Seven Dimensions of Well-Being, give some examples of practices that support each of the dimensions for us, and then invite you to create your own well-being menu.

One more thing, before we part (for now). For me, deciding to offer CLE and CJE straight from Thought Kitchen was an act of agency in that I realized that we had choices, including 1) doing nothing; 2) waiting and wondering if anybody might invite us to offer our expertise and perspective; 3) pitching these ideas to other entities; or 4) taking a chance by putting ourselves out there by stepping up to the mic, tapping it gently, and asking, "Is this thing on? Is anybody out there? We've got some stuff to share."

Some of these offerings have been more warmly embraced than others. We've learned some stuff. I'm sure we haven't given our best offering yet... and we continue to get the reps in because I have decided that I've got to actively and publicly, out loud, believe in myself-- and Lesley, Loretta, and Megan-- before others are likely to do so.

What conversations would you like to join? What's stopping you? What would support look like for you? I hope you'll let me know. The time is now for each of us to be part of our collective conversation.

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