Continuing Legal Education (CLE) for lawyers is mandatory in 45 states, with each possessing its own unique set of MCLE rules and regulations. CLE rules and regs govern attorney compliance and provider and course accreditation. Many of the rules are confusing, onerous and downright wacky.
continuing legal education
When lawyers go out on their own it’s called going solo or hanging a shingle. In other professions it is often just called freelancing. I recently sat down with a newly minted full time freelance designer. The lessons she has learned since going out on her own are definitely applicable to any aspiring solo practitioner.
Lawyers should be able to get continuing legal education credit for watching daytime court shows like Judge Judy and The People’s Court. Seriously.
Court shows are a window into the brains of regular people as they try to deal with their legal problems. They contain important lessons that can make you a more effective advocate.
Here are some of those lessons.
The biggest reason new law school graduates hesitate to hang their own shingle is that they know what they don’t know. The crippling intimidation of starting your own practice derives largely from the axiom that if you are going to practice law, you should probably know something about the law. It’s no secret that law schools don’t adequately train students to practice law on graduation day plus one. So every year, fall rolls around and you’ve got a large population of new, unemployed and under-trained lawyers who want to practice law, but won’t because they feel like they don’t know how.
Unfortunately, since the legal profession adapts to new trends about as awkwardly as your mom adapts to Facebook, new lawyers have woefully few resources for helping them learn how to be a new lawyer.
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Most of the 45 state that have a mandatory continuing legal education requirement for lawyers award credit for published legal works.
At least 35 states specifically lay out the qualifications for awarding writing credit. Each state has its own unique set of regulations which I’ll broadly summarize and juxtapose a blogging platform as publisher.
You’ve decided to put on a webinar, offer an online course or plan a national conference. Lawyers are already asking how many continuing legal education (CLE) credits they’ll earn and now you’re about to dive into the CLE accreditation morass.
But is your program even eligible for accreditation? This checklist of sorts has evolved from a Top-5 to a Top-10 after conducting an informal survey of my CLE colleagues on the MCLE Facebook Page and the old Listserv and receiving over 20 meaningful responses.
Most lawyers have to earn 10-15 hours of CLE credit every year. It can quickly add up at the end of a three-year reporting cycle. For reasons ranging from time and financial constraints to just plain old procrastination, upwards of 40 credits could be due weeks before the compliance date.
Along with many other benefits, like honing your public speaking skills, marketing services and becoming recognized as an expert, presenting offers an opportunity to earn quick, free credits. For every hour of presenting, a lawyer may earn three, five or more credits depending on the jurisdiction.
So how does a lawyer get speaking engagements?
Driving to your local CLE conference center and attending CLEs can be a pain when your schedule is full. Although many states are starting to roll out online CLEs, they are not always reserved for the best CLEs.