For 30 years, the Maryland Institute of Continuing Professional Education
of Lawyers (MICPEL) has served as a comprehensive CLE resource for Maryland
lawyers, providing high-quality legal education programs and publications to
sharpen practitioners' legal skills so they may better serve their clients.
MSBA's legal education arm has catered to the CLE needs of Maryland attorneys
for three decades, keeping them abreast of the latest legal trends, new laws
and most recent developments in over 20 substantive areas of the law. This
year, as MICPEL celebrates its 30th anniversary, it salutes its cadre of volunteers
and Maryland lawyers for their ongoing support.
hunger for a live
want to listen to
and interact with
a live person.
MICPEL Executive Director
For the last three decades, MICPEL has shaped the foundation for legal education
in Maryland's legal community and advanced CLE as an important component of
today's law practice. It has honored its commitment to provide traditional
CLE programming to Maryland lawyers while artfully adapting its curriculum
to the ever-changing legal marketplace and legal landscape. MICPEL continuously
adds new publications and programs to reflect timely "hot" legal topics that
are relevant to contemporary practitioners and is now streamlining its CLE
delivery system through advanced new technology.
Since its inception in 1976, MICPEL's basic tenet has been members of the
bar and the bench raising the professional level of the legal profession by
sharing information and expertise with colleagues at the Bar, according to
Brent Burry, MICPEL's Executive Director. "We help lawyers do a better job
for their clients," says Burry. "Our altruistic vision is to promote civility
and professional excellence; this is what MICPEL is all about."
It is also about dedicated and committed volunteers. Burry applauds MICPEL's
600-700 annual volunteers who help Maryland lawyers. "Many of the names of
the volunteer faculty members who presented courses during MICPEL's formative
years are still at it 30 years later," exclaims MICPEL's Executive Director. "They
are still contributing their time and talent to MICPEL to help raise the level
of lawyer competence and professionalism in Maryland."
Although MICPEL has faced major challenges in three decades (some considered
insurmountable at the time), this valuable CLE resource has persevered and
is thriving as the primo CLE resource for lawyers in Maryland. While it has
undergone numerous changes, some things have remained relatively the same.
For one thing, "we are still a non-profit, self-supporting institution in
a non-mandatory CLE state,"
explains Burry. MICPEL operates in one of only seven states where CLE is still
voluntary. "The differences are profound between voluntary and mandatory CLE
states," where attorneys must take a certain number of credits every year.
Then, there is the Internet, which has profoundly affected the way society
seeks and finds information today. "MICPEL now competes in an electronic market
with online competition from numerous Internet providers," explains Burry. "We
compete with for-profit commercial CLE providers to stay in business, not to
mention competition that has resulted from a major consolidation in legal publishing."
"Electronic competition makes it more difficult to attract attorneys to traditional,
live CLE programs where they have to leave and spend time outside of the office," remarks
"But, paradoxically, MICPEL's registration is still increasing," he adds, "and
attorneys still hunger for a live connection; they want to listen to and interact
with a live person." This may be one of the reasons MICPEL still enjoys participation
from a solid share of lawyers in the state.
Over the years, MICPEL has achieved many milestones, most notably its impressive
list of significant publications and well-respected legal education programs. "Our
publications are truly significant," proclaims Burry, "and many are now authoritative
bibles for lawyers and judges." He cites MICPEL's civil and criminal pattern
jury instructions and many books as examples.
In addition, MICPEL has gone from an annual operating budget of $80,000 to
$2 million, increased staff from one part-time person to 14 full-time and four
part-time employees, and institutionalized close to 40 annual and semi-annual
meetings in 12 different practice areas. It also moved to MSBA headquarters
in the late '90s and, according to Burry, now enjoys an "even stronger partnership
Burry praises MSBA for its partnership and on-going support of MICPEL. "[I
am] thrilled MSBA President Ed Gilliss has made CLE a priority this year. It's
so gratifying," beams Burry.
"MSBA's focus on this core value of the legal profession puts even more emphasis
on the fundamental aspect of what MICPEL and MSBA are all about."
"MICPEL has come a long way," exclaims Gilliss. Congratulating MICPEL on
30 years of outstanding service to Maryland lawyers, he adds "MICPEL has grown
in three decades, adapting to meet the changing needs of practitioners. The
quality of MICPEL's offerings continues to be excellent and one would be hard
pressed to find an attorney's library that is without MICPEL publications on
MICPEL was created by MSBA and University of Baltimore and University of
Maryland Schools of Law in 1976 to consolidate the state's CLE efforts into
one non-profit, independent agency. "We started in the basement of the University
of Baltimore School of Law with an $80,000 loan from MSBA and held our first
seminar in January 1977, presenting a total of 30 courses that year," reports
Since then, it has constantly added courses, seminars, audiotapes and publications
and stepped up its CLE marketing efforts. In 1999, MICPEL was reorganized,
and Burry became its new Executive Director. Under Burry's leadership, MICPEL
began forging closer ties with MSBA Sections to foster a true collaborative
CLE effort. "MICPEL seeks suggestions from all Sections on programs, scheduling
and ideas. We want to work with each individual Section and give members what
they want and need to help them keep that competitive edge in their area of
practice," states Burry. He actively works with the Sections, "drawing on their
expertise to present basic, intermediate and advance programs in their substantive
Burry also began capitalizing on technology to prepare MICPEL for the evolving
high-tech electronic information market and strengthen its role as a full-service
CLE resource. In 2001, MICPEL began exploring new technologies, user-friendly
programming formats and other contemporary innovations to streamline its delivery
system and give practitioners across the state a competitive edge."
Several years ago it upgraded its website, www.micpel.edu,
to be more user-friendly and convenient to its customers: Maryland attorneys.
This year, working with MSBA, MICPEL will focus on delivery systems that
utilize technologies and user-friendly programming formats so it may better
connect its CLE opportunities with all Maryland lawyers. "More and more of
MICPEL's enormous amount of content and legal resources (taped presentations,
audiovisual tapes, lecture outlines, polished edited treatises) will soon be
available online and more readily accessible, as will online payments, to make
financial transactions easier for our customers," predicts Burry. This is not
only a major leap; it is a major undertaking.
For the next 12 months, MICPEL will be commemorating its 30th anniversary
with special programs and other attractions. In April 2007, it will host an
anniversary gala, "a fun celebration tied to our new emphasis on attracting
financial support to build MICPEL's endowment," reports Burry. Planning for
this is already underway by a special committee led by MICPEL President Gilbert
Holmes, Dean of the University of Baltimore School of Law.
"We will engage in a fund-raising campaign, and conduct marketing efforts
to publicize notable milestones in MICPEL's first couple of formative years
as part of our celebration," reports Burry. "We will also focus on MICPEL's
current vitality and relevance as Maryland's primary source for continuing
legal education and law practice resources (through seminars, books and other
media products) and our plans to expand our accessibility through online content."
As MICPEL celebrates its 30th anniversary, it is already looking forward
to the next 30 years. Our priority is and has always been quality – in
programming and in customer service," asserts Burry.
"MICPEL will continue to help lawyers do a better job for their clients."