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Happy 25th Anniversary, PDC!

July 6, 2015

As you may have heard, the Professional Development Consortium has a significant birthday this year.  It turns 25!  To help us honor this milestone, we asked PDC colleague Leslie Belasco to assist us in re-tracing steps back to 1990, when the PDC first got off the ground.  Leslie was the perfect person to ask.  Not only was she a participant from the beginning, she was a host!  The very first meeting occurred in her offices at ALI-ABA in Philadelphia (now called ALI CLE or American Law Institute Continuing Legal Education).  Even luckier for us, Leslie kept some paperwork surrounding the initial gathering.  Since I didn’t join the PDC until 2004, I especially enjoyed seeing the initial aims of the group.  And I’m pleased to say that the PDC has more than lived up to them.

I provide a few highlights here:

The initial meeting was held on May 11, 1990.  On March 19, David Sonenshein, Director of AILTO (The American Institute for Law Training Within the Office), sent a memo to potential attendees of the first meeting.  The memo states in part:

In-house training professionals often express the desire to meet others who, like they, are responsible for lawyer training within their organizations.  They tell us that they would have a great deal to learn from exchanging ideas in an informal setting. . . .

This unique meeting is open by invitation to professionals in charge of developing and administering lawyer training in law firms, corporate legal departments, and government agencies. . . . 

It is our hope that this meeting will represent the beginning of an active association whose members will meet on a regular basis to discuss and develop their ideas for in-house training methods and resources. 

Fortunately for all of us, 26 people accepted the invitation for that initial meeting, and they liked the experience enough that they wanted to continue to meet and share ideas.  In addition to wanting to meet in person, they also suggested electronic communications, planting the seeds for what became the PDC Listserv.  One of the meeting attendees was Richard Carter, the Director of the American Bar Association’s Division for Professional Education.  In his May 24 memo summarizing the May 11 meeting, he said:

There were questions in the meeting about the use of ABA/net.  I have spoken with David Hambourger, director of the Legal Technology Resource Center, and he tells me that a code can be established for simultaneous “one-button” communication to all in the group, assuming each person or his or her firm is on ABA/net.

Fast forward 25 years to 2015.  The PDC, like the field of legal professional development, has grown immensely.  From 26 initial attendees, we now have close to 500 members, many of whom are members of vibrant local groups throughout the US and Canada.  Our members gather at two in-person meetings per year, and share questions and ideas frequently via our “one-button” Listserv.

Now, with the roll-out of our new website, we’ll have even more ways for our members to communicate.  All of these efforts stay true to the PDC founders’ original goals.

I tip my cap to Leslie and the others who had the foresight to get the enterprise off the ground!  Here’s to the next 25 years and beyond!


-Jim Lovelace
PDC Chair