While You Are There: Make The Most Of A CLE
Whether CLE attendance is by choice or obligation to get required credits, there are many things lawyers in small firms can do to make the most of their presence and help their practice.
The most valuable part of attending Continuing Legal Education for a small firm is the practical knowledge that can be gained. While this is obvious and should not have to be stated, many that attend CLEs do almost everything but learn including working, playing with a phone or tablet, reading a book or newspaper, doing the crossword puzzle or sudoku, staring into space, or sleeping. It is important to take the attitude of a student with an open mind and be ready to learn when attending a CLE. All it takes is one practice tip or different way of looking at things to totally transform a small firm practice. That one thing can double earning or efficiency can easily be missed if full attention is not being given.
Networking With Attendees
A CLE is a great opportunity for a small firm to make alliances and friendships with other lawyers and firms. A lawyer that is in an insular practice that does not interact with many other attorneys or deals with the same faces all of the time can benefit from meeting and developing relationships with new lawyers. Meeting lawyers from other firms that do not have overlapping practice areas can be beneficial to establish referral sources and bring in new business. Networking with attorneys that have similar practices can also be beneficial for referrals of overflow cases as well as a source of potential help if a question in that practice area arises. Before the CLE begins, breaks between sessions, lunch, and an after event or meet up is the best chance to interact with fellow lawyers in attendance. The most important part of meeting an attendee is to follow up later to help solidify a relationship.
Meet The Speakers
The speakers at a CLE most likely have some high level skill or amount of experience with the topic they are speaking on. CLE speakers can be a great resource to meet and then reach out to for help in the practice area they are speaking on. Some speakers will include their personal email or cell phone with their CLE materials that are distributed to those in attendance with the understanding that they are open to being contacted at a future time. If contact info is not given by a speaker, it is helpful to approach the speaker and ask for their information in case there are further questions.
Talk To The Organizers
The organizers of CLE, especially on a state or local bar level are almost always present at the event to help facilitate it. Meeting the organizer can be helpful to potentially being a part of a future CLE as a speaker or in some other capacity. Organizers most likely will have some upcoming CLE that they are also planning and are always in need of speakers and ideas for topics. Speaking at a CLE can be a great way for a small firm to raise their profile among the legal community and their own level of knowledge of a practice area by researching and writing materials for a presentation.