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Need CLE: write a blog or read lawyer blogs

Carolyn Elefant, a D.C solo representing and advising small energy developers, municipalities and trade associations on energy regulatory and litigation matters writes in her blog, My Shingle the best way to keep up with current legal issues is either to write a blog or read them.

Though I think we’re a ways from CLE via blogs, I wholeheartedly agree with Carolyn. There’s a some great blogs focused on niche legal topics and more coming every day. Plus publishing a blog may be the best way for a lawyer to keep up to speed on the latest developments and organize resources & information on their your area of law. Beats the heck out of a lawyer sitting in the back of a room for the day while paying no attention to a recorded talking head on a video screen — I’ve been there.

Carolyn writes:

Honestly, the best way to keep up with current legal issues is either to write a blog or read them. Blogs provide a constant influx of new legal developments and commentary every single day – and in the long run, make lawyers far more aware of new developments than a one hour CLE class where you’re not even obliged to listen. To enforce the requirement, lawyers could sign a certificate stating that they read a particular blog over a, for example, six month period. Sure, lawyers could lie, but again – what’s to prevent a lawyer from claiming CLE credit in an in-person class from simply snoozing through the class or returning emails on a Blackberry?

Despite all the support for CLE, you can’t force lawyers to learn. But blogs are so engaging and addictive, that once exposed to them, it’s my bet that most lawyers couldn’t resist their allure – and their wealth of information – for long.”

The impetus for Carolyn’s post was an article article written by Elizabeth Stull in the October 22 NY Lawyer entitled Solo, Small-Firm NY Attorneys Struggle With CLE , detailing the added burden that CLE imposes on solo and small firm practitioners.

Elizabeth wrote:

The burden of CLE appears to weigh most heavily on small law firms, which typically have limited funds and spare time. Large firms and district attorneys’ offices have become accredited to provide their own CLE programs, and attorneys at non-profit groups and government agencies receive steep discounts for CLE programs offered by Legal Services of New York City’s Legal Support Unit.

But many small firms eat the cost of the courses offered by bar associations, commercial entities, vendors and other accredited providers. Even at a relatively modest price of $20 per credit, paying for the 24 required credits more than doubles the cost of maintaining a license, adding $480 to the biennial $350 registration fee.

Thanks to the Stark County Law Library Blawg for turning me on to Carolyn’s post.

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