The Maryland Institute for Continuing Professional Education of Lawyers, MICPEL, announced today that it will be closing after 34 years of operations. Started in 1976 as joint collaboration between the University of Baltimore and University of Maryland Schools of Law, MICPEL's mission was to provide continuing legal education at a low cost to Maryland's practitioners and non-lawyer legal professionals. In a statement released today, MICPEL trustees cited outside competition from for-profit legal education businesses and the "recent economic meltdown" over the past several years as reasons for its planned closure.
Continuing legal education in Maryland is not mandatory, unlike many other states that require a certain number of education hours as a prerequisite forthe lawyers who practice in those states. According to a survey disseminated under the direction of the Court of Appeals last year, most Maryland practitioners do not favor required continuing legal education. Despite such disapproval, one is left to wonder why mandatory CLE is not required since there is no downside to such a requirement and only serves to better legal representation in the state. MICPEL certainly would have a place in such a scheme. For now, though, an institution that has provided so much good to so many lawyers, will be closing its doors, and lawyers will continue to participate in CLE seminars at their option.