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Why Sign Up for a Basic 101 Training?


So let them eat cake….


Defenders have (hopefully) noticed that OJD is providing monthly webinar trainings in addition to our Youth Defender Forums and other local trainings. If not, please use this link to view upcoming trainings and registration links. Trainings included basic 101 type trainings in addition to more advanced topics. Why, you might ask, should I attend a basic 101 level training if I have been practicing for 10 or more years in the juvenile delinquency field? I thought about this question during this past week’s webinar on Effective Communication with Clients and Parents.


For some background, I have been practicing law for 20 years and juvenile delinquency specifically for that same time frame. In that time, I have attended MANY trainings on communication with clients. While a training on communication may be viewed as a basic 101 type topic, I learn something new each time. This past week’s training addressed text messages and slang terms potentially used by our clients. As I listened to the presentation, I noticed that I knew less slang than I thought and that some others were in the same proverbial boat. I took notes on terms I hadn’t heard or interpreted correctly before. All of this made me think about how much change occurs in 20 years which is exactly why I hope you will consider attending more basic 101 type trainings.


We all know the law changes legislatively or through caselaw, but communications styles and methods change too. Consider this example from my own personal experience. I was appointed to a youth who was charged with breaking and entering and larceny after breaking and entering. I received discovery and immediately read through it and scheduled an appointment with my client and his mother to review it. I had questions for my client and for the ADA who was insisting on a felony offer. The discovery in question revealed that there was a co-respondent youth charged as well and that, during his police interrogation, this youth gave a statement. In it, he indicated he and my client had gone into a neighbor’s home through an unlocked door. They had roamed from room to room and taken some small items and some “cake from the kitchen counter” and then left. The two came back and went through the refrigerator and took some soft drinks and left again. They were young—under 14 years of age and it was summer. Clearly, they were hungry and thirsty, right? Wrong—so wrong in fact that the child and his mom were first speechless and then hysterically laughing at my confusion. I could have used a communication training on slang terms back then. Perhaps then I would have known “cake” was money and not actual cake or, at a minimum, I would have had an idea that I should do a quick internet search for any hidden meaning. Fast forward some years and another client explains some text messages by referencing the song “Cake by the Ocean.” Cake wasn’t money or cake anymore but something else entirely. After our last webinar, I did an internet search of “cake.” Just as I thought, there were more meanings listed than before.


Why register for the basic trainings? Our clients and society are ever changing and we as attorneys need to be willing to learn and adapt to those changes the same way we would adapt and learn about changes in the statutes or caselaw. Please consider the benefits of “basic” trainings. In addition to staying current and avoiding communication blunders, it could be a refresher/reminder of things you already know. It provides contact information for other defenders in the field. The chat function is utilized in the webinars, and you may be able to find someone who has or had a similar case to that difficult one you’re working on now. You may also find the answer to a question you didn’t know you had.

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