Optimize your firm’s Facebook Page. Use Twitter to engage present and potential clients. Maintain blogs for content marketing and search engine optimization. Social media programs are everywhere and lawyers are increasingly inquiring about and even demanding continuing legal education (CLE) credits for attending.
We’ve discussed the advantages of accreditation but how does a provider navigate the confusing labyrinth of CLE rules and regulations? The plodding CLE regulating bodies have not meaningfully considered social media issues affecting the legal profession or promulgate rules addressing this new and arguably, necessary technology.
Here are a few factors to consider:
Audience – Social media courses must be tailored to a legal audience
Most states require that the courses be primarily prepared for and directed at lawyers. So a program on the recent changes in LinkedIn Groups will not pass muster unless the subject matter and materials cover law related Groups.
Delivery format – Live classroom setting presentation or electronic formats?
CLE rules vary, sometimes greatly from state to state regarding delivery formats. Should you (or, can you) record that webinar on law firm Facebook Pages for later on-demand vewing by attorneys? Will a teleconference on LinkedIn for Lawyers be available in one state and not another? Many states allow these non-traditional formats, but with a host of accompanying and often onerous rules and restrictions.
Faculty – Can non-lawyers present?
Three years ago New York amended their CLE rules to require that the faculty of every accredited CLE course or program include at least one attorney in good standing. However, most states aren’t this short-sighted and allow faculty members qualified by practical or academic experience to teach the specified subject matter.
Content – Primary objective of CLE program is to increase lawyers’ professional competency
This standard is close to uniform for accrediting CLE programs. It’s unsurprisingly open to interpretation though some go on to in great detail about what is not available for accreditation.
A few content tips for social media CLE presentations:
- Add an ethics component – this will pretty much guarantee accreditation in most states
- Avoid marketing or advertising in the title or course description – these buzzwords will pretty much doom your chances of getting the course accredited. An exception is addressing the afore mentioned ethical issues.
- Include related law practice areas – integrate relevant issues like intellectual property, employment and privacy.
Though it may sound somewhat daunting, getting your social media course is quite doable. Check out this Sample of Continuing Legal Education (CLE) Accredited Social Media Courses, draft an outline, pick a state or two and get started.