CLE Delivery in a Digital World

Vol. 2, No. 1

Nancy Patterson is the President and CEO of Chattanooga, Tennessee, legal tech start-up LitigatorTechnology.com. LitigatorTechnology.com brings JuryStar for iPad, a jury selection app, and Web Jury Consulting, a one-hour consult with a DecisionQuest trial consultant, to solo litigators and trial teams. Nancy is the editor of LITIG8R TECH, a blog geared for solo litigators and trial teams, and she can be reached at nancy@litigatortechnology.com.

 

  • Find links to complimentary CLE.
  • Find out how to take CLE while you're on the move.

 

Every lawyer understands the professional importance of maintaining his or her CLEs. The best approach to delivering CLEs in a digital world certainly is debatable. With growing online CLE options through many bar associations, including ABA on-demand courses, and independent online-driven CLE providers like Lawline.com and Solo Practice University, CLE content is easily accessible from your desktop, laptop, or mobile device.

According to Monica Bay, editor-in-chief of ALM’s Law Technology News,

The past few years have been game-changers for continuing legal education, with the infiltration of consumer technology into the legal environment. Law firms, law departments—and the vendors who serve them—have all been struggling with the new BYOD (bring your own device) movement. Lawyers are insisting on using iPads, iPhones, and other mobile devices, and IT and risk management professionals have had to quickly shift gears and figure out how to support those technologies.

There are also several CLE-specific iPad apps including: CLE Master, CLE Mobile, and iCLE. CLE Master tracks and reports CLEs for multiples states. CLE Mobile delivers more than 4,500 courses to subscribers. iCLE helps manage courses, ratings and unfinished tasks.

 

Solos and CLEs

Sam Glover, founder and co-owner of Lawyerist, a Minnesota business attorney for geeks and a consumer rights advocate, believes solo attorneys look at content, convenience and quality of the speaker in choosing CLE opportunities.

Louisiana solo trial attorney and “Super Lawyer” Deborah Faust defines the three biggest things impacting how and when a solo practitioner decides to earn CLEs: “Topic, location, and cost.” A self-described “geek,” Faust is also enthusiastic about legal tech conferences.

Judy Young, a solo wine and hospitality law practitioner licensed in both Pennsylvania and New Jersey, says she thinks the bar requirements are the biggest factor impacting how and when solo attorneys decide to earn CLEs. Like Faust, she described earning CLE's as “an expensive endeavor.” Young also prefers to attend national conferences that are specific to either her practice area niche or specific areas of interest; for example, conferences related to the wine industry and legal technology for lawyers.

Young had this to say about legal technology conferences:

These kinds of conferences seem to be located in the same geographic locations every year. I'd like it if the tech conferences would change locales more frequently so as to be more readily accessible.

Young is also interested in attending the Macs in the Law Office conference, MILO Fest, held in Florida each year, and she also follows The Online Bar Association group via LinkedIn.

 

Learning on the Move

With 89% of attorneys reporting smartphone use for law-related tasks, it is no surprise that a growing number of attorneys turn to their handheld devices for CLEs.

Young uses her mobile device to earn CLEs because of the flexibility it brings. Young said, “I very much favor being able to learn on my iPhone and keep it moving.”

Bay also values the ability to learn on the go: “It can make tedious travel, whether on a freeway or stuck in a middle seat on a coast-to-coast flight, not just less difficult, but genuinely productive.”

A frequent online CLE presenter, Glover thinks that the biggest danger to CLE is the refusal by many CLE providers to pay for quality presenters. Glover said, “Few lawyers are good teachers, and it often shows.”

When asked what he thought about trade shows combined with CLEs, Glover explained,

Because I write about technology, I love exhibit halls. But as a consumer, I hate being sold to, so I’m conflicted. Still, exhibit halls seem to be a major source of funding for conferences, so I don't see them going away any time soon. In a fast-changing digital world, the availability of CLE delivery in a wide-variety of mediums, through multiple providers and at affordable price points, seems to be indicating some yet to-be-defined shifts.

In the meantime, Young says, “I'm driven by the content of material to be provided and the expertise of the individuals providing it.”

As we’ve all heard before, content is king. And as Bay points out,

Marshall McLuhan said, “The medium is the message,” and each delivery vehicle has advantages and disadvantages. For example, California still requires that a certain percentage of required CLE courses be taken in a group environment, where there is the opportunity to interact not only with the speakers, but the audience. The value of a live program at LegalTech New York, the ABA Annual Meeting, or the International Legal Technology Association, for example, is greatly enhanced by the dynamics of a live program—especially when that program includes interaction from the audience.

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