Thursday, February 23, 2012

NCDD: Tap Tap Tapping on that Glass Ceiling

NCDD – The Structure

I have several friends who were “founding members” of the National College for DUI Defense.  Lawyers from all over the country came together for one purpose – to form an organization to train lawyers how to properly defend DUI cases. 

DUI defense is the most complicated and challenging area of criminal law.  It’s not just about being a great trial lawyer because YOU HAVE TO LEARN THE SCIENCE.  You’ve got to understand the pharmacodynamics of alcohol, the theories behind the standardized field sobriety tests, urine testing, breath testing, blood testing and so on.  It takes a lot of work and a lot of study to be great at this.  DUI prosecution is built on a mountain of junk science.  Debunking the junk is ¾ of our job. 

I salute all of the founding members of NCDD.  Their intent was pure.  However, I take exception to the structure they put in place for NCDD.

Here’s how it works:  NCDD has an unelected Board of Regents.  Each year the most senior Regent serves as Dean of the College.  After his year is up, he becomes a Fellow.  That leaves a spot open for a new Regent.  The Board picks a new Regent.  There are no elections and the membership as a whole has zero input into who becomes the new Regent.  This person is simply presented to the membership at Summer Session.

There is also a second tier of individuals who are called State Delegates.  I think their role is to round up new members within their state.   Otherwise I have no clue what they do. 

Once upon a time there was a female Regent.  She left early in her term for family reasons.  Years went by and another female was selected.  She is now early in her term – and she rocks, by the way.

So how are Regents selected?  Well, that’s easy.  It’s the Pick a Pal method.  The Regents pick their favorite person – someone’s best friend, law partner, maybe the person who has done the most ass-kissing over the years.  I have a pretty good idea who the next Regent will be this year based solely on the current color of his nose.

Maybe when the organization was very small this odd structure made sense.  However, when you have 1300 members, it is absurd.  Power is kept in the hands of a very small group who also control the purse strings AND the speaking opportunities at Winter and Summer Session.

Speaking of purse strings, the Regent job is not a bad gig.  NCDD flies the Regents to the various seminars, puts them up in hotels and even pays a per diem.  One former Regent estimated that it’s about a $10k a year perk.  Meanwhile the poor schlep 2 or 3 years out of law school is charging up a credit card to fly to Boston for Summer Session.  Yeah, that makes a lot of sense.  

So what do the Regents do?  Well, much like the Skull and Bones Society, no one is sure.   They seem to hold meetings and make important decisions but as members we don't know what they are.  

To say it’s an Old Boys’ Club would be an insult to Old Boys’ Clubs everywhere.  It is THE quintessential Old Boys’ Club. 

So what about the gals?  Is there light at the end of the tunnel?

Stay tuned…

1 comment:

  1. Your assessment is pretty dead on. More than once I have wondered why the membership has no say in who the next regent will be.