Can law blogging qualify for CLE credits?
Lawyers are required to take continuing legal education in order to keep their licenses.
Historically, education has taken place in the classroom with live speakers or recordings. With the advent of the Internet lawyers are now taking CLE classes online as well.
Beyond classes, some states allow lawyers to earn credits by writing legal articles. The articles need not be law review or law journal quality or length. The articles need not be exclusively for other lawyers.
In my first company, Prairielaw.com, the precursor to lawyers.com’s content and community, we had lawyers author content for consumers and small business people. Lawyers practicing in states which allowed it, earned a CLE credit for each of their articles.
Such content was written and contributed by the lawyers, in part, as a means of enhancing their reputation as a reliable and trusted authority. The lawyers also contributed their articles as way to gain additional exposure online.
Sounds an awful lot like lawyers publishing a blog. Would law blog articles/posts qualify for CLE credits?
I took a quick look at various states’ positions on allowing lawyers to claim CLE credits for writing legal articles.
- Tennessee: Writing articles concerning substantive law, the practice of law, or the ethical and professional responsibilities of attorneys may qualify for CLE credit if the articles are published in approved publications intended primarily for attorneys.
- Maine: The writing of law related articles for publication will not be automatically approved for CLE credit. Authors requesting such credit must submit a copy of the article after publication for evaluation by the Board to apply toward only the self-study portion of the attorney’s annual CLE obligation.
- Georgia: May earn credits in researching and writing articles provided that (1) the article or treatise’s content and quality are consistent with the purposes of CLE, (2) it is published in a recognized publication which is primarily directed at lawyers, and (3) the project was not done in the ordinary course of the practice of law, the performance of judicial duties, or other regular employment.
- California: May get credit for articles published or accepted for publication that contributed to your legal education, exclusive of activity which is part of your employment.
You get the idea. Yes, lawyers may and do earn CLE credits for writing articles. At the same, though blog posts are arguably legal articles, you can see the hurdles and how states are apt to respond.
Is the blog published in part for education or as part of your employment? In most cases lawyers are not required to publish blogs or contribute posts to them as part of their employment.
Is a blog a credible and reputable publication in the states which include such a requirement? In the case of niche law blogs, the blog represents the most definitive and authoritative publication on the subject. Where was the journal of Retail Patent Litigation before Dave Donaghue of Holland and Knight published it in the form of a blog?
Who is to say a blog, or online publication published by a major law firm, is not a recognized publication? It’s a heck of a lot more of a publication than a law firm newsletter, alert, or article stored on the firm’s website.
Law firms, with the advent of the net, are becoming publishers. Their resources, especially human resources in lawyers, for producing niche authoritative content are arguably greater than that of a bar journal or law review.
Printed versions of legal publications, journals, reviews and bar magazines are not long for the world. More is going to be written on WordPress (blog software used by major publishers) than for print and on outdated online publishing systems. Legal articles approved for CLE will be by default likely to be published on blogs.
Curated blog content is soon to become to the most authoritative and collaborative legal content. Content from judges, law students, law professors, practicing lawyers, law librarians, and law clerks. You name it, law will be advanced and content will be peer reviewed faster than we’ve ever seen before – all via blogs and curation by people and machine.
Is publishing a blog a means of education for a lawyer? Monitoring content in a RSS reader that’s coming from authoritative sources and on relevant subjects, sharing the content with others in an engaging fashion, and providing insight is as good as gets for learning. Blogging also drives networking and collaborative thinking – something far beyond article writing. It sure beats being locked in a hotel reception room to watch a video for three hours of CLE.
No question there are lawyers and legal marketing professionals who wouldn’t know a law blog if it hit them in the face. We’re not talking about content written by companies and ghostwriters and sold to lawyers for publication on a lawyer’s blog. We’re not talking about content chockfull of ‘keywords’ to garner website traffic.
We’re talking about real lawyers writing real blogs just has they have written legal articles for a hundred years. Written for professional development, with a byproduct being business development.
It seems to me that blogging can qualify for CLE credits. It’ll be up to lawyers to submit their request for CLE credits and state bar administrators, informed in what blogs truly are, to move things along.
Agree that law blogs qualify for CLE in some states? Do you know of lawyers who have used legal blogging for CLE credits?