Stay Spry with CLE

By Kimberly Anderson

The quickest way to become an old dog is to stop learning new tricks. — John Rooney

The need for lawyers to maintain and enhance their professional competency has never been greater. The practice of law is changing at a rapid pace, and the expertise and skills needed to respond appropriately to the ensuing challenges are not accomplished easily. Only through deliberate, continuing legal education can law professionals be assured they will have the knowledge needed to serve their clients effectively.

The Model Rule for Minimum Continuing Legal Education (MCLE) was developed by the American Bar Association Standing Committee on Continuing Legal Education. It was passed by the ABA House of Delegates during the 1986 ABA Annual Meeting. The Model Rule serves as a guide for state legislators to adopt a uniform set of standards and means of accreditation of CLE programs and providers within their states. Forty-one states require lawyers to participate in continuing legal education to maintain their law licenses. Each state has different criteria regarding the number of CLE hours required during a time period, the type of CLE that qualifies (such as distance learning), and who is covered by these rules (typically there are different MCLE requirements for active lawyers who are regularly engaged in the practice of law and inactive lawyers who are not).

CLE programs are offered in several formats and are delivered by many providers. The American Bar Association Center for Continuing Legal Education (ABA-CLE, www.abanet.org/cle) offers CLE through a variety of traditional and innovative learning formats. As indicated in a research study conducted in fall 2006 by the GP|Solo Division and the ABA Membership and Marketing Division, affordable CLE is important to the solo and small firm lawyer. The ABA-CLE offers a variety of complimentary and reduced-fee programs, including:

CLE Now! online courses. Many programs are available to the public; select programs are specially designated for ABA Members.

ABA Connection. An archive webcast of the ABA Connection program is available on a complimentary basis to ABA Members via CLE Now! (ABA members pay a $9.75 line charge to participate in the live ABA Connection teleconference.)

ABA-CLE downloads and podcasts. Now get ABA-CLE programs featuring the nation’s leading legal experts on preloaded iPods, as audio or video downloads in MP3 and MP4 format, as part of the monthly ABA-CLE Podcast series, or through the weekly ABA Career Resource podcasts, which offer career tips from national leaders in the legal profession.

Member benefit programs. These offer reduced or complimentary rates for sponsoring entity members.

You may access online CLE programs 24 hours a day, seven days a week from the convenience of your home or office computer through the West LegalEdcenter ( www.westlegaledcenter.com). Remember, GP|Solo Division Members receive a special discount on all GP|Solo Online CLE.

Unique to GP|Solo is the Practice Builders Series, innovative teleconferences featuring structured series–within–a–series topics followed by a question-and-answer session on the SoloSez™ listserve and a Monday Morning Workout “To Do” list.

If you prefer to obtain your CLE in person, you need look no further than the ABA and GP|Solo Division meetings. On the Division’s CLE web page ( www.abanet.org/genpractice/cle) you will find information on upcoming events, such as the 200 CLE programs to be offered at the 2008 ABA Annual Meeting in New York City, August 7 to 12. The highlight of the meeting will be Solo Day on Friday, August 8, featuring CLE designed specifically for the sole practitioner. Financial scholarship applications are available for this program. To request an application, contact Nicole Nikodem at . Additionally, the Division is in the process of confirming the schedule for the Third Annual National Solo and Small Firm Conference, which will have one and a half days of CLE to be held October 3 and 4, 2008, in Santa Fe, New Mexico, in conjunction with the Division’s Fall Meeting.

The GP|Solo Division also actively solicits and accepts cosponsorship of programs with other entities. Recently, we have cosponsored two programs with the Chicago Bar Association.

Through a myriad of CLE programs, the ABA and the GP|Solo Division offer you the ability to keep your practice young. It is your commitment to lifelong learning that will enable to you to refine your abilities and enhance your knowledge for yourself, your profession, and your clients.

Kimberly Anderson is Staff Director of the ABA General Practice, Solo and Small Firm Division. She may be reached at 312/988-5636 or .

Copyright 2008

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