Participation in course offered by Committee for Public Counsel Services

September 11, 2003

Opinion 2003-7

Dear Ms.:

This is in response to your letter requesting an opinion from the Committee. In your letter you inquire as to whether you may participate in a five day course offered by the Committee for Public Counsel Services entitled "Zealous Advocacy in the District and Juvenile Courts". You state that the course is a Bar Advocate Certification Program, and in order to take it you must apply to a Bar Advocate Program. You note that you are aware that you are prohibited from practicing law while employed by the court system. Your request did not provide the particulars of the course you wish to take.

While, in general, the Code of Professional Responsibility for Clerks of Courts does not prohibit employees from taking educational courses, you may not take a course that would constitute the practice of law or give anyone the impression that you were engaged in the practice of law. Additionally, you are reminded that Canon 3 requires a Clerk Magistrate to devote the entire time during normal court hours to the duties of his or her office.

Lastly, the Committee would like to caution you about a potential issue. Should a faculty member of this program appear before you in your official capacity you are reminded of the importance of the appearance of impartiality. The Committee refers you to the provisions in Canon 4 on Impartiality and Disqualification.