Thursday, May 27, 2010

Review-presentation offered by Judicial Council of California

In this final review, I discuss the video game component of this presentation.

There are two games offered, one for attorneys representing parents in dependency cases, and one for attorneys representing children - Guardians ad litem (GAL). Each completed game is worth 2 California Minimum Continuing Legal Education credits.

The game takes you through a typical day in your dependency practice, including three areas of your practice; interviews with the client, court proceedings, and work performed in your office. The introduction to the games states, "The purpose of this game is to orient you to the kinds of situations you will encounter, give you an idea of the demands you would be facing in daily practice, and instill a set of professional values that will optimize your professional practice."

The case scenarios and the parties are similar for each game. You are presented with a case, in which a series of events is described. You are required to select actions to perform from a list of choices for three areas of your practice. One action is optimal, the others are varying degrees below that. Each choice carries a particular reward of consequence. No matter what you choose to do, the game explains how your choice rated and why. You can earn promotions and extra points depending on your responses.

You earn overall points for the quality of your response. You also learn credibility coins depending on the quality of your response in the context of the situation--and can be promoted and get a raise. You are also working on a burnout meter, and if your burnout level reaches 100%--again based on the stress any particular response causes, you will quit your job and the game ends.

I played both games. I found that politics was a contributing factor in the points awarded for certain responses. The game was clever in its application of a variety of factors that come into play during an attorney's representation in these cases. However, because it was limited to multiple choice answers, there was no room for creativity in representing your clients during these informal proceedings.

It is a competent basic orientation tool for a lawyer whose practice includes dependency cases. The game provides useful perspectives on dealing with adult and child clients, rewarding the player for tactful handling of their clients. It also seems to be reinforce some of the best practice models that many attorneys and agencies tend to avoid in the interests of expediency. This game stays more focused on the best interests of the child than real live practicing attorneys seem to. However, it is quite weak in the esoteric critical issues unique to child welfare cases. It is much stronger in management of your practice than in actual child welfare law. It is a fair start to a complex and unique area of practice.

Oh. It doesn't matter what your score is, you get the MCLE credits simply for completing the game. I can report that I got promoted and a raise, never got anywhere near burnout, and my final score was 1468 points. The game generates a California MCLE certificate with your points included.

You can obtain this disk from Center for Families, Children & the Courts, 455 Golden Gate Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94102-3668. (415)865-7739.