Out of state road trip
The Value of Out-of-State Education

By Hon. Chad Schmucker
President, The National Judicial College

Recent articles and editorials on judicial education in parts of the country have raised a number of issues about out-of-state judicial education programs. The issue flared up in New Orleans this fall. Local media quoted critics who perceived judges traveling outside of the state for educational courses as “an exorbitant and wasteful practice.” They maintained judges can satisfy their continuing legal education requirements at local or in-state conferences at a much lower costs to the public. As president of The National Judicial College, I would like to add another perspective so that you can better inform those who question the value of out-of-state continuing education.

Educational programs are essential to any profession. We can all agree the programs should be serious and rigorous and not vacation junkets. We expect doctors, architects, accountants and other professionals to understand new developments in their fields, and we should want the same for our judges.

Your job today is more difficult than it was 50 years ago. Many of you must have advanced training on domestic violence, mental health, substance abuse, evidenced-based practices, case management, working with self-represented litigants, alternative dispute resolution, scientific evidence, problem solving courts, and courtroom security. Most of these skills are neither taught in law school, nor acquired by practicing attorneys.

The public expects courts and judges to provide high quality service and to incorporate up-to-date research into their operations. For example, almost every community wants judges trained in how to operate a drug or mental health court.

Although most states offer excellent training within their states, The National Judicial College has expertise and an economy of scale which allows us to offer programs unavailable in most states. After all, we’ve been doing this for 51 years. In 2014, we educated nearly 5,000 judges. Our courses are offered both on the University of Nevada, Reno campus and other locations around the country. They are certainly not at “posh” resorts but many are at attractive locations.

We offer rigorous one- and two-week programs. All our classes start at 8 a.m. and meet for a full day. Bells ring at the start and end of every presentation. Most judges describe the experience as their most intensive and worthwhile professional educational experience. Here are just two examples:

“I received a wealth of information that I could not have received anywhere else. I have many pages of ideas that I am taking back with me. This course has made me a better judge and will make my court much more effective. Those who appear before me will benefit and my community will be a better, safer place to live.”
— Hon. Michael Kramer, Indiana

“The speakers were all highly informed on the subjects each presented. The topics were relevant to my needs as a new judge. The ability to hear different ways of handling issues from judges in other areas of the country exposed me to new ideas I may not have considered. Overall an excellent experience!”
— Hon. Philip T. Raymond, Georgia

It is worth repeating what they are saying: What they value most — an intensive curriculum, experienced faculty and a sharing of knowledge with judges from around the country — is at the heart of what The National Judicial College provides. Our courts are essential to our democracy. Millions of people go to court every year, and they expect and deserve well-educated, efficient, effective and knowledgeable judges.

Several of our NJC courses are held at locations close to America’s cultural and natural treasures and are sure to attract participants from across the nation. They are taught by experts in their fields of study and offer an enriching and stimulating experience. Click here to learn more.

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