Get Free CLE by Presenting

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?

Start writing

Law firm practice area newsletters, creating a blog or guest posting, industry periodicals — the opportunities are many. Use this as a reference source when looking for speaking engagements.

Bar Associations

Resources range from the ABA Women and Minority Speakers Bureau to the Oklahoma Bar Association CLE Speakers’ Corner where volunteer speakers can receive up to six hours of CLE credit for a 50-minute presentation.  The ABA Division for Bar Services offers a comprehensive directory of bar associations.

Online Providers

CLE providers who offer online-only courses is a booming business and they’re always looking for faculty members. Presenters further benefit by gaining exposure  beyond the local community.

Clients and In-house Corporate Counsel

Law firm attorneys or solo practitioners often have corporations as clients. These entities have in-house legal departments that also need to satisfy CLE requirements. Offer to visit and present, perhaps covering issues about the case you’re currently handling. Note that the law firm, practitioner or corporation will need to be an accredited CLE provider. If not, CLE accreditation of courses is available.

Law Firm Training Programs

Many states allow attorneys to earn credit for training and other courses given in the law firm or law office. Law Writing offers an excellent state by state guide to rules for in-house courses.

Join other Associations and Network

Lawyers and other professionals often invite those they know or are in some way connected to present at their event. Extend your network beyond bar associations such as the Association for Continuing Legal Education and the National Speakers Association. This is not free CLE as membership fees are involved, but still a great deal.

These are just a few of the ways that lawyers can start earning CLE credit by presenting. You may even wish to produce your own original programming and become an accredited provider of CLE. Instead of procrastinating, complaining about the cost or quality of CLE, remedy that by becoming a presenter, and in the process, satisfying your CLE requirements.



  1. Avatar Betsy Munnell says:


    This is an excellent post I shall be passing along to my coaching clients. Nice work. It’s been fun watching you build your business!


  2. Avatar Shaun Jamison says:

    Nice post! I would add to be assertive. Let people know you want to be a speaker. If you are nervous about speaking, join Toastmasters. You can come for their short program called speechcraft if you don’t want to have a longer term commitment.

  3. Avatar Shaun Jamison says:

    I would also point out that you sometimes get free meals and if you are on a panel, you also see the rest of the CLE for free and get those credits too. I’ll get to see the Lawyerist editor-in-chief give his opinions at “Innovating Like Your Firm’s Future Depends on It – And it Does!” on 2/10/2011

  4. Avatar Yan Ross says:

    Thanks, Tim, for another excellent piece of guidance for both practicing lawyers and CLE specialists (some of whom are like me: “recovering attorneys”).
    Keep up the good work!

Leave a Reply