Marketing Programs for Attorneys Should Provide Value, Not CLE Credits

Should lawyers get continuing legal education credit for marketing programs? That’s certainly the push we’ve been seeing online in CLE forums, blogs, and elsewhere. And yesterday, my friend Tim Baran posted more on the topic in the wake of the news that Fordham Law School is now offering a class on law firm marketing as part of its JD program.

There is a movement underway. A growing number of people think CLE credit should be given for marketing programs. I’m not one of them.

This isn’t because I don’t think marketing is valuable. I do. But if marketing programs are so valuable, shouldn’t attorneys attend them with or without CLE credit? These programs promise to teach them how to attract more clients and, thereby, bring in more money. Why isn’t that worth the cost of admittance?

The conference industry outside of CLE is full of conferences that offer no credit at all. And yet, people still attend them. And often pay quite a bit more money to do so than many continuing legal education providers charge. The conferences offer value beyond the equivalent of a CLE affidavit–and the attendees know it.

Our well-intentioned accreditation system has trained our industry to value programs–marketing, substantive or otherwise–based on the number of credits the program offers. And I don’t think that’s good for anyone–lawyer, provider, or client.

4 Replies to “Marketing Programs for Attorneys Should Provide Value, Not CLE Credits”

  1. Provocative Post, Alli! I totally agree that attorneys and other professionals should take courses and attend seminars because of the value they offer and not just for continuing education credit. In an ideal world.

    But, with the continuing economic crisis, earning CLE credit is starting to occupy a larger percentage of that value. What I’m hearing more frequently from providers is that attorneys, newly unemployed or under-employed with no firm or corporation to pay for their training and continuing education, almost demanding that courses offer CLE credit – they simply cannot afford otherwise.

    For them, attorneys and providers, the restrictive MCLE rules are burdensome, even unfair.

  2. Provocative Post, Alli! I totally agree that attorneys and other professionals should take courses and attend seminars because of the value they offer and not just for continuing education credit. In an ideal world.

    But, with the continuing economic crisis, earning CLE credit is starting to occupy a larger percentage of that value. What I’m hearing more frequently from providers is that attorneys, newly unemployed or under-employed with no firm or corporation to pay for their training and continuing education, almost demanding that courses offer CLE credit – they simply cannot afford otherwise.

    For them, attorneys and providers, the restrictive MCLE rules are burdensome, even unfair.

  3. Thanks, Tim. I know many attorneys are hurting financially right now, but I don’t think the economic crisis is cause to change CLE regulations.

    CLE requirements were created, if I’m not mistaken, because it was believed that lawyers had to be held accountable for staying abreast of new substantive legal developments and that CLE programs were the best way to do that. If the requirements are to change, it should be because *that* has changed (by the way, I think the advent of the internet as we know it today and the availability of information probably means that it has changed in many ways)–not because the economy is bad.

    For the unemployed/underemployed, I’m not just saying, “Let them eat cake.” I think we have many other ways to address their short-term problems. Bar associations and other CLE providers have offered an abundance of low cost and free programming this year, including substantive topics, practice management, marketing and more. And if my state, which produced many such programs, is any indication, attorneys took advantage of these programs in droves.

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