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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.
The articles content boils down to two broad requirements—that it contribute to the continuing legal education of the author and is addressed to attorneys.
The daily review and research of current materials and information necessary to compose on-point, meaningful blog posts certainly contributes to the author’s education as it does to the lawyers that consume the content.
Many states require that the articles be published in law reviews, professional journals or an ABA publication. And books or chapters of books. Some consider non-published works
A few mention electronic or “other legal sources”. Like blogging platforms? What about posts on ABA published blogs?
Nevada has a unique provision that articles published in a legal magazine must have a regular distribution to at least 200 attorneys. Online legal magazines (or blogs) reach thousands!
Length of post
Some states specifically require up to 2,000-3,000 words in length. Some get specific, like Vermont which grants 2.5 hours for 1000 published words and five hours for 3000 published words.
Though the trend in today’s quick paced world is for micro-everything including blog posts, most lawyers, given the opportunity will gladly comply with a verbose requirement. Some bloggers even now, eschew the popular short, frequent posts in favor of longer, substantive pieces.
All states restrict the number of publication credits that a lawyer can earn per year, usually not more than 50% of the total number of hours required.
That takes care of any potential argument that lawyers need to access their continuing legal education through more traditional channels. They’ll have to anyway.
As with all CLE approvals, there is a cumbersome, lengthy application process for getting publication credit. With a blog post, all you need is a URL.
The purpose of mandatory CLE, defined in varying terms by each state, is for lawyers to maintain their professional competence – ensuring their knowledge of the law, to better serve their clients. And to improve the public image of the profession.
I would argue that consistent, substantive blog posts satisfy this and then some.