Alameda County
Bar Association

Why consider a trip to Portugal or Scotland with us – MCLE Abroad 2023 

Why consider a trip to Portugal or Scotland with us?

Perhaps you have seen that the ACBA, in partnership with other bars, is planning not one but TWO MCLE trips in 2023 – one to Portugal and one to Scotland.  But perhaps you are thinking – why go with a bunch of lawyers?  Wouldn’t that be dull, or stilted, or awkward??

I’m here to testify – it won’t be any of those things!  In fact, it will be fun, excellently planned, interesting, and way different than if you had planned it yourself (or gone with another tour group.)  I speak from experience.  I am an enthusiastic international traveler, and I love planning it all.  When we first planned a bar trip to Cuba, I was deeply skeptical. 

Our Bar Group in Cuba 2018

But then I went to Cuba.  We saw things, and met people, that I never could have put together.  We met a Canadian lawyer practicing in Havana, and heard about the really different approaches there.  A law professor explained to us why a majority of lawyers and doctors in Cuba are women, and what the gender politics are.  We got to ask questions of our guides – one of whom was essentially enthusiastic about Cuban life, and the other of whom was critical.  We sat in on private rehearsals of musicians and dancers, had a private tour of an excellent art museum, and toured a nonprofit working with adults with developmental disabilities.  All along, we were well attended to, and had the freedom to go find our own adventures, as well.  A few people brought spouses, siblings, and others – all had a blast. 

Portugal - View from lunch! Famous bookstore in Porto, PortugalWe also had a bar trip to Portugal.  I didn’t go, but Cheryl Poncini (former ACBA President) did, and hade an amazing time.  The MCLE’s offered during the 2019 Portugal trip offered insights into different aspects of Portuguese law.  For example, one morning, our group went to an office where a service was located which assisted victims of crime.  In Portugal, the victim of a crime can be a witness in the criminal proceedings, a Civil Claimant in the criminal proceeding (where the victim is seeking damages) or  an Assistant to the Public Prosecutor.  Various rules apply to each role. On another occasion, there was a lecture from an attorney regarding legal issues and the production of wine.  Later, in the Douro Valley, the group visited a winery to observe the making of wine and then took a boat ride down the Douro River to a lovely restaurant at the river’s edge for a delicious lunch – with wine!  

Victoria Street EdinburghI HAVE gone to both Portugal and Scotland on my own, and can testify to their beauty, great food, excellent wine/whisky, and fascinating history.  What I can’t testify to at all is what the practice of law there is like, or insights into local life.  And that’s why I’m planning on going to Portugal with the group.  I’m looking forward to learning about legal issues and meeting interesting people.  I’m excited about having adventures and fun times with other lawyers and with judges.  Alright, I admit it, I’m also excited about the incredible and affordable food and wine. 

A few last thoughts.  You may be feeling that it’s expensive, and at first glance I agree.  It’s actually quite reasonable for what you get, but for me the trick was also to force myself to be realistic about how much I really spend when I travel.  The costs just are not that different – and they are also predictable. 

And are the costs of the trip tax deductible?  Of course, I am not a tax lawyer and certainly not your tax lawyer, so this is not legal advice, but the answer is, yes, often.  Here are some links that might help.


Hope you will be able to join us!


Tiela Chalmers  (she/her)

Chief Executive Officer and General Counsel

Alameda County Bar Association and Legal Access Alameda


Spring 2023 Space is Limited!

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Planned Trips – Come to One or Both!

Portugal (May 10-18, 2023)

Join our journey through Portugal’s Old World allure and New World splendor, exploring Lisbon and Porto’s rich history, diverse wines, and vibrant culinary scenes. Our immersive program will engage with local scholars, attorneys and artists offering relevant commentary on the Portuguese and EU legal and political systems, international relations, history, art, and religion.

Scotland (June 11-17, 2023)

For such a small country, Scotland has a significant cultural footprint beyond its kilts and bagpipes. Sitting on the Northernmost point of the United Kingdom, Scotland has a robust and independent history of Roman soldiers, Vikings, noble clansmen, and powerful monarchs. Our visit will explore different aspects of Scottish culture and history including Castle tours, traditional music, whisky tastings, and visits to Scotland’s second city – Glasgow – and St. Andrews, the birthplace of golf. The amusing capital of Edinburgh will be our home base for this unique opportunity to enjoy the best of Scotland while earning CLE credits!