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.