As practicing legal professionals, it is important to keep up with the latest changes in the law. To do so, Continuing Legal Education (CLE) is a valuable tool that can help improve a lawyer’s standing professionally. But why is continuing legal education important?
Simply put, CLEs help lawyers stay current on the latest legal developments as well as sharpen their skills. The benefits of CLE are numerous, including maintaining competence and professionalism, protecting clients’ interests, and avoiding disciplinary action.
This post discusses why it’s important for attorneys to pursue CLEs.
What is a CLE?
Continuing Legal Education, also referred to as mandatory or minimum continuing legal education (MCLE) or continuing professional development, is a post-bar educational activity for lawyers. These legal education courses extend the practicing attorney’s knowledge beyond what law school offers with information that is relevant today.
During continuing learning education, United States lawyers attend CLE seminars and a variety of courses to carry on practicing law and maintain their license through their professional experience.
Because there’s no uniform mandate just yet for what the requirements are for CLE courses, there is still state-by-state discretion on what programs should be pursued by lawyers for their CLEs. Each of these states’ supreme courts has jurisdiction on what CLEs are applicable for their lawyers.
As such, a special commission or board is erected to have authority over CLE requirements, accreditation, and rules.
Despite having no nationwide rules and requirements for CLE accreditation in the US, efforts to make CLE programs uniform in each state have been made. The American Bar Association (ABA) has detailed information about CLE regulations on their website for each individual state.
The Continuing Legal Education Regulators Association (CLEreg), an organization that discusses and exchanges CLE information among administrators, also made a guide on relevant CLEs. CLEreg established a uniform application, attendance certification, and glossary for CLE attendees and administrators.
Getting CLE courses accredited is a tedious process. With each State having its own specific minimum requirements, a potential CLE provider must only apply to individual states as applicable to their offered course.
Some individual lawyers may apply for CLE course accreditation aside from organizations. As long as the authorized commission or board approves of the courses, talks, live webinars, or seminars, CLE credits can be given.
For example, an organization can only become an accredited CLE provider in the state of New York if they have at least three consecutive years of sponsoring, organizing, and administering CLE courses in other states. These courses must meet the required standards of the state of New York.
How to Earn CLE Credits
Typically, a lawyer can earn CLE credits through classroom training, online courses, or even through audio learning.
Another way of earning CLE credits for more experienced attorneys is through speaking in seminars, teaching accredited CLE programs, panel presentation accredited CLE activities, teaching credits at school, or publishing legal research writing. These credits are measured by the number of hours for a period of years.
Perhaps the most exciting way to earn CLE credits is through Destination CLEs. With Destination CLEs, you can earn your mandatory continuing legal education credits while on vacation in some of the most beautiful and exotic locations in the world! Plus, the Eduvacation℠ of continuing legal education may even qualify as a tax write-off.
It’s important to note that attorneys must maintain an active license in each jurisdiction they wish to count their CLE training or other activities. Should a lawyer be licensed in multiple jurisdictions, CLE credit requirements are still fulfilled so long as the jurisdictions share common CLE rules and regulations.
Who’s Exempt from CLEs?
Some lawyers are exempt from fulfilling their CLE requirements. As an example, Florida Bar allows an exemption for the following:
- Those under active military service
- Approved undue hardship
- Having a nonresident membership
- Those employed full-time in a federal judiciary
- Justices of the supreme court of Florida
- Judges of district, circuit and county courts
- Inactive members of the Florida Bar
Why is Continuing Legal Education Important?
The age-old adage “you learn something new every day” is applicable not only personally but professionally too. A study performed by the University of Cambridge found out that lifelong learners have more success professionally than non-learners, showing that continuous learning will never be a waste of time and that it’s instrumental for creating industry leaders.
In many other practice areas or professions, employees often have refreshers, seminars, training, or activities that are designed to help them be better at what they do and stay up to date with best practices and new laws. These additional learnings can lead to benefits such as a promotion, interpersonal skills, and fulfillment in the workplace. These educational programs also add to the years of experience in the field.
With the rapid change of the world, the rules, and new topics, all professions have to stay up to date, and this certainly includes lawyers. CLEs are important not only as a means to complete requirements but also for them to keep up with the fast pace of change so they can provide the highest quality legal procedures.
The Benefits of CLEs
CLE is an important system of learning for lawyers because: (1) they have the means to be updated with legal developments, (2) they gain awareness on different topics such as mental health issues, technological advancements, client sustainability, etc., (3) it increases their network, (4) they can keep on improving their practice, whether they join law firms or an individual practice and (5) they maintain being an active and experienced attorney.
Unfortunately, having to complete CLEs may seem bothersome to some attorneys. Some lawyers feel that CLEs are an unnecessary waste of time—time that they could have used for social and family interactions instead.
But who said CLEs can’t be both educational and enjoyable?
With Destination CLEs, lawyers will anticipate every CLE season simply because they get to accomplish their credit requirements while on a beautiful and relaxing vacation. This makes it easy for attorneys to spend quality time with their families and explore somewhere new while improving their legal skills at the same time.
Here at Destination CLEs, we understand how stressful being a lawyer can be and we know that needing to complete your CLEs is an additional stressor. That’s why we decided to incorporate professional requirements and leisure with the Eduvacations℠ of Destination CLEs.
Legal practitioners can choose from many locations depending on the time of booking, ranging from warm, tropical islands to beautiful and historic European destinations. More locations are added often, so make sure you join our email list to be the first to know about our upcoming Eduvacations℠ of continuing legal education!
CLEs Are an Opportunity to Grow
While the value of CLEs may be a source of debate for many attorneys, the importance of continuing legal education is not.
Lawyers should take advantage of every opportunity to learn and grow in their field, and CLEs provide an excellent way to do that.
Plus, continuing legal education doesn’t have to be a drag thanks to Destination CLEs!