Starting next year I’ll be winding down my law practice to focus almost exclusively on growing the CLE company that Dane Ciolino and I started a few years ago. For the non-lawyer readers “CLE” refers to “continuing legal education,” which is a requirement for most lawyers in the United States.
Every year those lawyers who have CLE requirements have to scramble to find accredited seminars that will provide the credit that they need to keep their law license valid. Sadly, most CLE seminars are boring and tedious. But lawyers go because they have to get the credit.
Six years ago I encountered some really interesting (and useful) CLE seminars about how to use technology in the practice of law. This happened at the ABA TechShow in Chicago, which is always held in late March. If you haven’t been, you should try to go.
Anyway, PaperlessChase.com, the company that Dane and I formed, was an effort to bring some of the same kind of information to lawyers in Louisiana. We just finished three days of seminars in New Orleans, which is something we’ve done every year at the end of the year. It’s easier to get lawyers to come to your seminar if it’s held right before the deadline for getting CLE. And up to now we haven’t known how else to get enough attention from lawyers.
We know we need to hold the seminars more often, but marketing any product (even a great one) can be a major challenge.
Everytime we have these seminars the attendees tell us that they’d wish we’d do these seminars more often. After the last seminar we received this fairly typical comment: “This was the most meaningful CLE I have attended in my 20 years as a lawyer.” Obviously, that kind of feedback is inspiring. And motivating, because it makes me realize that there are lots of lawyers who desperately want to learn more about technology, and how it can improve their law practice.
But, as I said, reaching these lawyers during the first 11 months of the year is a challenge. Any challenge can be met, the only question is: how?
The first step was to bring in Megan Hargroder, an amazing young woman I met by virtue of working at LaunchPad. Megan has many skills that we need. She majored in Broadcast Journalism, and was a “one woman band” news reporter at a major TV news company in Lafayette, LA. She knows how to speak, write, produce video, and edit it. She’s also a social media expert and has her own consulting company. She’s also adept at figuring out new technology, and finding low-cost ways of solving problems.
Megan isn’t an employee of our company; she’s a full partner. But bringing Megan in isn’t enough to get us where we need to be, so that’s why I’m winding down my law practice. I’ll keep my license and maybe do some work here and there, but for the most part I’m going “all in” on growing DigitalWorkflowCLE.
I’m really excited, and energized by this decision. Dane and Megan are excited too, and, together, we’re going to do some interesting things. There are other people out there that we want to work with, and that’s definitely an important part of the equation. But for now, it’s about getting our focus and building awareness of what we’re doing.
Wish us luck, and let us know if you have any helpful ideas. We’re not the only ones with this idea so there’ll be competition, and that’s fine. If competition makes the quality of CLE programming improve that’s a win for lawyers and the legal profession.
I like win-win propositions. And I like helping people. So I’m really eager to start this new year, and I will be holding my glass a little higher when I make a champagne toast at midnight.
P.S. If you want a better practice, check out this Ultimate Guide.
I think this is a great initiative. Having seminars like this that does not only aim to help lawyers fulfil their required credits would lend greatly to the continued education of lawyers. Lessons like this would definitely help our lawyers become more efficient, productive and less complacent. High standards of practice must be upheld!
Mariov – https://www.starrausten.com
I wish I could say that I would not be practicing law in 2012. Super jealous. Even though you still have to work with lawyers, you work with them when they are on their best behavior….
Congratulations Ernie. I think you have a great idea. Hopefully, you're thinking beyond Louisiana and contemplating a more national stage. If there's anything I can do to help here in the North-East, let me know. Both Pennsylvania and New Jersey, where I practice have CLE requirements of 12-15 credits per year. At least 4 can be had on-line, so that may be something you will consider.
Seriously, let me know if there is anything I can do to help. When I finally make a move to wind down my practice, I don't want to do anything more strenuous than lifting a glass with a small umbrella in it.
Ernie: Congrats on your new and exciting venture. Great legal seminars are hard to find. Technology is an intregal part of a legal practice and I look forward to attending your seminars.
I agree with you, you must also take time to unwind and free yourself from stress, paper works and any other things that would bring you but headache.
Ernie! This is incredible news. What a wonderful way to start the new year. Your commitment to our excellence is but one of the many reasons I respect you and Dane for bringing the awareness and know-how of technology to the practice of law. The legal profession is better with you two in it. I'm also looking forward to meeting Megan. The mere fact that you are work with her is a testament to her awesomeness. Good luck, and if you need anything, please do not hesitate to call on me. Happy New Year! ~ Sheila