The Benefits of Online CLE
by Kristi L. Bergemann
Kristi L. Bergemann is an associate with Gaunt, Pratt, Radford, Methe & Rockenbach, P.A., in West Palm Beach, Florida. She can be contacted at klbergemann@justice.com.
In the hustle and bustle of a young attorney’s busy life, there are many expectations and tasks to fulfill but never enough time to complete them all. One responsibility is searching for programming to satisfy continuing legal education (CLE) requirements. Fortunately, in today’s computer-connected world, there are many opportunities for attorneys to obtain CLE credits (or to find out how) on the Internet. The benefits of online CLE include the ability to meet your jurisdiction’s requirements on your own schedule and from the convenience of a Wi-Fi hotspot in an airport, hotel room, or your bedroom. Additionally, because there are many different online CLE topics to choose from, including highly specialized subjects that are not typically addressed in live programs, you can learn about topics that interest you but that may fall outside your practice area.
When choosing online CLE, you should factor in your jurisdiction’s CLE requirements. First, you should make sure that online CLE is valid in your jurisdiction; for example, many jurisdictions accept ABA-sponsored online program credits but may have special reporting requirements. Second, you should make sure that online CLE counts toward meeting specific requirements in your jurisdiction as some jurisdictions require live CLE on certain topics while other jurisdictions do not permit young lawyers to receive distance-learning CLE at all.
Online CLE has an added benefit for young lawyers when it comes to cost, especially for those attorneys whose employers do not fund CLE. There are many Web sites that post free or inexpensive CLE. For example, ABA-CLE offers the complimentary CLE NOW! programs online (www.abanet.org/cle/clenow), and the ABA YLD provides free online CLE opportunities in audio or video formats with accompanying written course materials. In your search for free and inexpensive online CLE, you may find advertisements for bar associations, professional organizations, law schools, publishers, and sometimes even firms offering free online CLE and free live CLE programs in your area (live programs also can be great networking opportunities!). You also can check out your state bar Web site to determine its online CLE providers as some programs may be offered at a discount to members. For every CLE registration, it is worth noting whether there is a discounted rate for young attorneys or government attorneys.
In addition to being convenient and affordable, online CLE is often at the cutting edge of technology. Many CLE Web sites, including ABA-CLE, offer innovative delivery methods, such as podcasts, MP3s, and interactive webcasts that are often complementary to everyone and even more convenient than traditional Web-based approaches. In many jurisdictions, attorneys can both earn and view their CLE credits online so they can better ensure they are meeting requirements.
Online CLE is worth at least one search for young attorneys who enjoy convenience, low prices, and high technology. You never know what may spark a career interest, allow you to make a new contact, or enable you to spend time learning at the beach rather than in a cold and crowded conference room.
 
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