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CLE programs: why are they often irrelevant to most lawyers’ practice areas?

I just got a brochure for a two day CLE program, and it reveals something that is common to a lot of these all day, or multi-day, programs: the choice of topics have no coherence, and therefore little utility for most lawyers. If you’re going to spend all day in a CLE seminar wouldn’t you want all (or most all) of the programs to be relevant to your practice? Isn’t that they idea of CLE? If it’s not relevant how can it benefit the lawyer or their clients?

Just so you see a concrete example, here is a list of some of the topics. As you read them ask yourself would a lawyer go to this multi-day seminar to learn, or just to load up on CLE credits?

  • Jury selection tips
  • Bankruptcy problems: how to avoid them
  • How music conditions us culturally
  • Eye witness identification problems
  • Mobile lawyering tips
  • “Grandma’s last chance” (not sure what this is about)
  • Recent developments in Civil procedure
  • Recent developments in Criminal law
  • Medicaid & Estate planning
  • Commercial leases: how to avoid problems
  • Ethics
  • Land Use: planning and development

These mish-mash programs are offered because the people who put them on are dependent on getting free speakers, and it’s hard to coordinate a bunch of free speakers who will talk about a coherent topic. I’m not condemning the organizer of this program; they’re just doing what everyone else does. And it seems to be hard for most CLE organizers to figure out how to attract quality speakers on a regular basis.

Even if the organizer is a state bar association.

P.S. If you're a practicing lawyer, check out this Law Practice Assessment . After answering a few questions, you'll get detailed recommendations for improving five key areas of your practice.

One Comment

  • John says:

    The real problem is that CLE is mandatory. The "mish-mash" program you describe is ok with me as long as it gives me the 12.5 hours I need to keep my law license and is priced reasonably. I don't care if they spend two days talking about Latvian law. I don't think I am alone in this view, based on the number of lawyers not paying attention at the many CLE's I have been forced to attend.

    If the mandatory CLE requirement were abolished, CLE providers would have to attract lawyers by providing value to their practices and not just CLE credits.

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