Jordan Furlong’s question on The Future of CLE posted on LinkedIn got me thinking. The question leveraged my prior 3 Geeks post on the Googlization of CLE and included his comments about how CLE’s role could shift towards professional development. So what if we take a step beyond Googlization (which is so “3 months ago” as my son says) and think of applying Web 2.0 to the CLE world?

In Web 2.0 environments you stay current by monitoring blogs, watching tweets and engaging in the dialogue. Most of my continuing education comes from these sources. And more importantly, it has greater value based on my participation. I can comment on LinkedIn like I did with Jordan. I retweet on interesting tweet and add a thought. Then another participant does the same. Or they pick up a related line of thinking and extend the dialogue. The result is a combined, asynchronous effort that brings many minds together and allows them to all benefit from the shared experience. The sum is much more than the parts.

This post is a great example of that effort. Last October I made a blog post. Jordan creates a Discussion on LinkedIn that extends the idea. A number of comments give me the CLE 2.0 idea which results in this blog post (which will result in some tweets and more comments). On one layer this is basic 2.0 in action. But from the CLE perspective, I now have a new set of tools and methodology for helping lawyers stay current on their practice skills. And this new approach has the potential to deliver much higher value than the old-school presenter/audience model.

Am I suggesting CLE Boards accredit CLE 2.0? They should at least start thinking about the idea and how it might benefit the practice of law.

Do I still go to live programs? Of course. But those are for the personal interaction as much as the education. If I relied solely on live programs for continuing education, my current knowledge base would be considerably less (Greg – hold your comments on that point).

As you might guess – I welcome your comments on this subject.

  • You really make the argument for why CLE should not be required at all. Lawyers who are sufficiently motivated and interested to stay abreast of trends don't need CLE. Those who are disinterested are going to treat it as a sham anyway.

    I will be curious to see how long CLE remains a requirement once it goes the way of free. I've always believed that CLE requirements were implemented as a way for providers an bar associations to make money. Without the profit motive, will there be a motive to keep CLE?

  • Profit motive? Why do bar associations need to make money?

    I think that CPD requirements, which are also present in the medial and accounting professions, are an important part of providing consumer confidence and regulatory confidence. It is my understanding that CPD requirements in a profession form part of the risk assessment when determining professional indemnity fees [anyone able to confirm this?].

  • Thanks for this fine post, Toby. I think what you are describing is the disintermediation of CLE providers. In my view, there are three principal components of CLE: (1) standards setting, (2) content creation & distribution, and (3) verification that each licensed attorney has met the standards. Before Web 2.0, CLE providers were needed to perform functions (2) & (3). Web 2.0 now allows lawyers to perform functions (2) & (3) without CLE providers. I think this is related to the disintermediation process occurring more broadly in the legal profession, notably in legal publishing and in law libraries. I think this is Dr. Richard Susskind's argument in The End of Lawyers, respecting which I've gathered a number of resources here.

  • Exciting to hear the emerging conversations about moving CLE forward. And this post nails it. Suggesting that CLE Boards at least consider accrediting CLE 2.0, whatever that is or will become really brings it home.

    Current regulations make lawyers and providers jump though hoops to get media formats accredited with some states incredulously refusing to accredit some of the most basic and convenient of media formats. CLE Boards need to be challenged to address issues around the current standards before or while considering new options.

    Uniform standards, a movement that seems to have lost is ferver, could go a long way in simplifying processes and speeding up the adoption of new, relevant and necessary regulations. But that may be a beast for another discussion.

    Toby, thanks again for this provocative post!

  • To not allow CLE to be in a 2.0 version is ludicrous. I do appreciate the regulation to provide confidence to the public and to ensure the lawyer is actually listening.

    I've never been a proponent of mandatory CLE but I think there should be benefits to those lawyers who do actively participate in CLE like reduced malpractice premiums so you recoup the costs associated with participation.

    However, as active as we all are in social media and Web 2.0 , the more I present to lawyers the more I realize we are clearly not the majority. So to believe that lawyers will simply learn through social media alone is folly.

    I agree with Carolyn that those lawyers who are motivated will always stay abreast of trends and those who don't find value in CLE will still be annoyed but such is the nature of beast.

    The underlying question is, do lawyers need to continually learn? If the answer is 'yes' then there should be some systematic form of education through the most convenient technology. So CLE 2.0 should be available to everyone in every state which mandates CLE.

  • Susan, great points. To not allow CLE to be in a 2.0 version IS ludicrous, about as much as not awarding MCLE credit for seminars that cover marketing (an issue you tweeted about) and the use of existing and new technologies.

    The old days of associates riding the gravy train of rainmaking partners are long gone and every attorney must now become a savvy marketer. How is a seminar covering marketing topics such as client and media relations, strategic planning, etc, then, not relevant to the practice of law? How can a single conference be approved for 3 credits in one state, 15 credits in another and zero in yet another? It’s happened.

    It's difficult to argue convincingly against Carolyn's compelling voice of no mandatory CLE. And I agree that motivated attorneys will actively seek out continuing education opportunities. Even those less motivated will via training and development, networking, etc. But it seems as though the courts promulgate these restrictive, even punitive rules for the probably five percent that don't comply or try to find ways around it. How about rules for the 95 percent that do comply? Just a thought – haven't really fleshed this out, but wanted to put it out there.