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As shutdown continues, ABA offers free CLEs to affected lawyers

With the federal government shutdown entering its fourth week, the American Bar Association announced a program to provide free Continuing Legal Education (CLE) programs to affected lawyers.

The five CLE programs focus on a wide range of legal issues, such as ethics, disaster resilience and cybersecurity.

“The American Bar Association appreciates all the hard work done by lawyers who keep our government running,” ABA President Bob Carlson said. “By offering free CLE courses, we are trying to show that we recognize their efforts and will try to assist them through these trying times.”

“This is a way to help lawyers during this difficult time who do so much for the country,” ABA Executive Director Jack Rives said. “We are offering a range of free CLE courses to those attorneys, including those who are not currently ABA members.”

To access the free CLE, registrants should click on this link. The offer is good through February and lawyers have six months following registration to complete the courses.

The ABA’s offer came as the impact of the shutdown on the legal profession continues to grow.

The departments of Justice and Homeland Security are not funded, but according to contingency plans, about 85 percent of their employees have been working without getting paid. This includes tens of thousands of law enforcement personnel from the FBI, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Bureau of Prisons, Customs and Border Protection, and Transportation Security Administration agents.

The shutdown has had mixed effects on government investigations. FBI investigations are continuing because, according to the Department of Justice, “all operations of the FBI are directed toward national security and investigations of violations of law involving protection of life and property.”

The Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network and the Securities and Exchange Commission will continue some investigations but shut down others until funding is restored.

During the shutdown, the federal court system has continued to operate by using court fees and other funds, but money to sustain paid operations is expected to run out Friday, Jan. 18.

The court system is now operating under the terms of the Anti-Deficiency Act, which allows “essential work” to continue during a lapse in appropriations. Each of the 94 federal district courts, as well as the 13 Courts of Appeals, determines the staff necessary to support its mission critical work.

In response to requests by the Department of Justice, some federal courts have been issuing orders suspending, postponing, or holding in abeyance civil cases in which the government is a party for a limited period.

The shutdown has also closed most immigration courts, adding to the case backlog of more than 800,000, according to Syracuse University’s Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse.

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