As a lawyer there are many things you are responsible for. Keeping up to date on your continuing legal education (CLE) classes is one of the many things on the list to complete.
As you already know, it is extremely important to complete these hours. States often will penalize an attorney for not meeting the required amount of CLE courses in the allotted time.
This year has certainly looked different when it comes to completing CLE hours, especially in person continued education.
For much of the year, conferences were moved to a virtual platform, giving many of us a new and unique experience when it comes to learning.
As we look forward to 2021, we are all eager to get back to “normal”. Going to conferences and in person CLE courses is part of that normal for many of us. It is with this sentiment that I am reviewing the best CLE courses. My hope is this list will help you choose the CLE courses that work best for you in 2021.
Choosing CLE Courses
When beginning your search for classes there are many important factors to consider. Some of which are: the state requirement, what classes work best for your practice, and where to take these courses.
There are many options when it comes to finding your states CLE requirements. Resources like the American Bar Association and Lorman will outline each specific state and what the requirements are. Some of the requirements could be the number of hours, types of classes and how long you have to complete your classes. Some states allow an attorney two years to complete their CLE’s while others begin again each year. Resources like ABA and Lorman make finding important information on your state easily accessible.
It is important to know your state's requirements for what courses have to be completed. For example some states require an ethics course be completed as part of your overall hours.
There are hundreds of topics to choose from when planning your CLE courses. While most typically choose to take courses that are directly relevant to their practice, if you have the opportunity, CLEs is a great way to take a course on an area that interests you but you do not practice in. The more knowledge you get from the courses the more you can apply it to your practice.
Best Continued Legal Education
State Bar Annual Conferences
When it comes to completing your CLE courses, one of the most popular options are legal conferences put on by state bar associations. At these conferences they offer a variety of classes that you can choose from. Since most conferences last 2-4 days, attorneys have the opportunity to complete a majority of their hours.
State bar annual conferences are a great place to take a variety of classes. There are a variety of tracks and hundreds of classes to choose from giving you the opportunity to refine your skills or branch out and learn something new.
In addition to completing CLE hours, state bar legal conferences are a great way to network with other attorneys in your state. Many state bar annual conferences put on events in the evening to encourage those from similar locations, areas of practice or education backgrounds to network and build relationships. After a long day of learning, it's a fun way to unwind and meet new people.
If you're looking for a conference on a smaller scale or a bit closer to home, local city bar associations also provide CLE classes. They typically will happen during the week and only last a couple of hours.
In the time of COVID, gathering in person has become difficult/non existent. Many CLE courses and conferences are being offered online through the bar association and the ABA in lieu of in person learning. As we look ahead to 2021 our fingers are crossed that in person conferences will resume and this will once again be an option attorneys can take advantage of when fulfilling their CLE requirements.
ABA On Demand CLE
Long before COVID and the world turning to online only learning, the American Bar Association has offered online on demand continuing legal education.
The ABA offers over 1,500 online courses covering all different types of credits. Members of the ABA also have unlimited free access to more than 600 widely-accredited online CLE webinars and on-demand programs.
We recommend ABA on demand CLE because no matter what state you are from, these courses are just a few clicks away.
There are two format options to choose from, on demand pre recorded sessions or live webinars. While some prefer to watch pre recorded CLE courses because of the flexibility, others may enjoy the engagement of a live webinar.
In addition to the online CLE offered by the ABA, there are many online CLE options available for attorneys.
Online CLE’s are perfect for attorneys who are interested in gradually obtaining their CLE credits rather than spending several days straight in classes. The great thing about online credits, is they can be done from the comfort of your home, on your couch, with a cup of coffee in hand.
A few options we recommend are:
Each of the online CLE options above provide what they call “State Bundles” which consist of hand-selected CLE courses tailored to your mandatory state requirements. Simply select your state and then you have the option to use their compliance bundle or customize your bundle by practice area. This option makes completing your CLE requirements simple and convenient.
No matter which online CLE option you choose, you can feel confident that you're receiving high-quality, accredited, on-demand CLE content designed for your state and practice areas of law.
While in person conferences were put on the back burner for 2020, we are hopeful that in 2021 conferences will once again be an option to receive CLE credits. Therefore, we would be remiss if we did not include the CLIO conference in our list of best CLE options for lawyers.
For a bit of background, CLIO is a practice management software that helps lawyers and law firms manage day-to-day business operations. In 2012 CLIO began hosting a conference to help lawyers learn and innovate through exceptional content by industry experts.
The CLIO Conference is one of the biggest legal tech conferences and attracts thousands of lawyers every year.
We recommend the CLIO conference because it is perfect for small law firms and solo attorneys who are interested in legal tech. One important thing to note is that you do not have to be a CLIO user to attend the conference, All legal professionals are welcome to attend.
The Clio Conference partnered with the ABA to bring lawyers CLE credits on the latest changes in laws, practice management, and technology. While the number of CLE edible credits vary from year to year, in 2020 attendees were eligible for up to 6 CLE hours (depending on their state).
The great thing about the clio conference is the amount of variety in not only session topics by also session style. You can attend speaker lead sessions, intimate round table discussions, or Ask Me Anything style sessions with industry leaders.
While the purpose of conferences is to gain knowledge and CLE credits, For the hardworking profession you are, it’s important to have a little fun too. The Clio Conference offers more than your typical networking events, Clio After Hours ; live musical events, cooking classes, and yoga are all available to attendees to help you enjoy your time away from the office.
The Best CLE for You
Which CLE option is best for you? The answer lies in your preferred learning style.
If you’re looking to learn at your own pace on your own time, online or on demand learning might be the best for you
If you’re looking for dedicated learning time coupled with some social events and networking, a conference is the route to take.
No matter which CLE option you choose from the list above, you will be getting high quality courses and fulfilling your CLE requirements.
Overall selecting and completing your CLEs should be enjoyable. These are classes that allow you to continue to grow your knowledge on specific topics or continue to learn on a new topic.