When you get right down to it, continuing legal education is about relationships. It’s about the relationships between providers and speakers; the relationships between providers and their legal communities; the relationships between speakers and attendees; and the relationships among attendees.

And, of course, it’s about education, but the best way to ensure a quality educational experience is to enlist the right speakers, attract the right attendees, and provide a forum for them to exchange information and ideas.

So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that some CLE providers are looking to social media not as a marketing tool, but as a way to enrich and expand the reach of the relationships they have always fostered.

If those providers look to other industries for guidance, they might come to the conclusion they need something like a community manager. Community managers are becoming common, especially in large corporations. They have a role to play in those organizations. But in CLE organizations, where relationships and community have always been a part of our model, I wonder if their role might be a little different.

I’m thinking the most important role for a person who is well-versed in online communication is to empower others in the organization to use social media to enhance their existing communication tools. This is no small task, when you consider that each person in the organization has a different role and different objectives–not to mention varying levels of online competence and comfort.

Program attorneys, coordinators, editors and customer service representatives should all be as comfortable communicating with speakers and lawyers in various online communities as they are with phone and email. These are the people who have always played a role in managing their CLE community and, ideally, that doesn’t change when the community goes digital.

Or so I’ve been thinking–what do you think?