Mandatory Continuing Legal Education can be one of the annoyances, if not hardships, lawyers face every year. We’ve found that attorneys, who have taken a leave of absence whether to have a baby, move from big law to solo practice, or other personal reasons, have found it especially difficult to keep up with their MCLE requirements along with the associated costs.
Keeping your bar status and your credits current is important, especially if you’ve transitioned into a freelance attorney position and your firm isn’t covering the costs for you. With a little bit of research, we found quite a few options to help you find and attend free CLE classes.
1. Schedule your CLE in advance. We recommend that you include a CLE schedule in your yearly calendar planning. We’ve found that planning for CLE throughout the year allows you to pick the right ones for you that pertain to your area of law. Planning ahead eases the burden of cramming them in all at once or finding yourself at the last minute paying for one that doesn’t resonate with your area of practice, or interest.
2. Know your state’s rules and regulations. Each state has its own rules and regulations indicating what qualifies for CLE credit. The American Bar Association has an easy to navigate state-by-state MCLE requirement guide that lists the hourly requirements along with any specialty credits required.
3. Head back into the law school classroom. Each law school is different, but check with your alumni association because most law schools offer free CLE credit through the different school associations and programs that bring in guest speakers for the students. Back in law school, we had attorneys stopping by the student organization lunch presentations on a regular basis. This was a great opportunity for the attorneys to get a free CLE, but also for the students to network with the attorneys.
4. Click the “Free CLE” tab on the American Bar Association website. The ABA has a Free CLE Series on their website that hosts monthly programs to earn free CLE credits (up to 18 hours every year). They even have made the archives of past CLE presentations available for current CLE credit, so you’re sure to find a CLE that pertains to your practice area.
CLE credits are not limited to in-person events. The ABA has made it possible to get credit using Webinars and Teleconferences, Online Courses, and CDs and DVDs. Check your state’s regulations to make sure you’re meeting the participatory hour requirements.
With a little advanced planning and using our Free CLE guide, you should be able to knock out your CLE credits without waiting until the last minute or breaking the bank.
We’d love to hear your input on what avenue you use for getting your CLE credits. Write your comments below.