Use CLE Accreditation as a Marketing Tool


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For seven years, Lawyerist has published an annual list of the best law firm websites. Now, you can find out what they have in common.

This is not about trying to get your marketing courses accredited (that’s a rant, er, post for another time). It’s about using continuing legal education (CLE) accreditation as a tool to enhance what you already offer and broaden your potential audience.

If you’re a law firm, solo attorney, or company or entrepreneur catering to the legal profession, you need to establish yourself as an expert in your niche practice or service. How do you do that?  By presenting at conferences and other events, offering seminars, webcasts and teleconferences, blogging and engaging on social media platforms.

It seems as though most recognize this as our overflowing inbox and mailbox can attest, advertising free webinars and low cost (and not-so-low cost) 3-day conferences. How do you separate yourself from the pack? By getting CLE accreditation.

Accreditation offers three immediate advantages

  1. Presumption of quality – the standards and rigorous accreditation process promotes quality assurance
  2. Opportunity for lawyers to satisfy their mandatory CLE requirements –  in today’s budget-tightening times, potential registrants for continuing legal education programs are increasingly inquiring about earning credits
  3. Increase program awareness and attendance – many states list the programs they accredit on their website, often with a link to the Provider’s website

Mandatory CLE rules are often onerous and not terribly progressive making the accreditation process somewhat daunting. But it’s certainly doable. Although 45 states now require lawyers to fulfill a mandatory CLE requirement, the top five states, New York, California, Texas, Florida and Illinois, cover almost 50 percent of the one million plus attorneys in the United States. Start with a couple of states, or all five to get maximum exposure for your presentation. Reciprocity will grant you another few states. Then based on feedback and armed with a new understanding of the rules and administrative requirements, you can reduce or expand accreditation for your next presentation.

Practicing lawyers attend courses to stay on top of their game, with most mandated to do so. They sacrifice billable time. A CLE accredited activity provides an opportunity for lawyers to learn and earn so go ahead and accredit your presentation. Start small and expand. Or for national, multiple day conferences you can choose to start big maxing out at around 30-35 states. Your presentation can now be marketed as CLE accredited to broaden your reach and increase attendance.



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  • Susan Gainen

    While my own opinion about CLE accreditation as any sort of standard for legal professionals is that the requirements should be the floor and not the ceiling for knowledge acquisition, it is the opinion of a non-practicing lawyer who was licensed for decades in Maryland, which has no CLE requirement.

    I do recommend CLE for two pivotal junctures in career development: for law students who should exercise their curiosity about what lawyers actually do all day, and for lawyers seeking to explore new practice areas without appearing to be conducting job searches.

    1. Law students should use free and reduced fee CLE to explore the actual practice of law. Because CLE is taught by practitioners and focuses on practice problems, it offers students a window into the day-to-day work of a lawyer. One Minnesota grad attended every family law CLE that was given while he was a 2L and a 3L. He ended up knowing virtually every family lawyer in Minnesota and having enough knowledge to be a “virtual” second year associate.

    2. When a clerkship and practice lead to an unsatisfactory career path, a very practical Minnesota grad used CLE as a career development tool. She attended all of the CLEs in Minneapolis for two months, learned about the topics,and observed the attorneys and how they related to one another and to her. She made a decision based on those observations, went back to school for an LLM and is practicing in the area in which she found the lawyers most respectful of one another and most welcoming to her.

  • Tim Baran

    Great points and anecdotes about career development, Susan. I also agree with you about knowledge acquisition. In the mad dash for credits, actual learning is sometimes hampered. MCLE, spectacularly imperfect, is here to stay but needs tons of work from the states supreme courts and CLE regulators – working together to promulgate less onerous and punitive rules and regulations.

  • This is a great article, but how do I go about applying for the CLE ? Who do I need to contact?