Continuing legal education (CLE) is more than a lofty ideal. It is certainly more than a pesky state bar requirement. It is an important professional responsibility that, when undertaken with genuine interest, will pay dividends to a lawyer’s practical skills. There are numerous sources of traditional CLE, ranging from in-person seminars, to convenient webinars, and informational articles with corresponding tests.
There are yet other sources of CLE available to lawyers: online list-servs with titled threads where lawyers discuss each other’s posts, legal question and answer websites, and blogs. Granted, these sources of education do not carry CLE credit, but often they provide relevant guidance to an inquiring lawyer. Sometimes, a lawyer will come across valuable information mentioned by other lawyers and although he/she may not be searching for anything in particular, the mere opportunity to read professional input may condition a lawyer to a topic for future reference.
People Learn in Different Ways
A great way for a lawyer to learn new subject matter and practice style is to read how other lawyers understand the subject and go about practicing in a given area. Some say there is no faster way to learn than by watching others perform. With people spending more time on the Internet, it is fair to say what could once only be learned through in-person interaction, can now be achieved by interacting online.
Lawyers can take advantage of the thousands of legal personalities engaged round-the-clock in professional discussion. With so many lawyers talking about law on the Internet, it is reasonable to be concerned about the accuracy of posted information. To allay such fears, lawyers can feel confident in the natural safeguards in place to protect against misinformation.
Some of these safeguards include the contributing lawyer’s personal desire for accuracy, which can be bolstered through independent research before they submit information online. Also, the benefit of community participation in online threads and question and answer pages cannot be overlooked. When a participating lawyer makes a mistake with their legal understanding or practical feedback, other community members are quick to correct such misinformation. Whether this willingness to correct one another stems from the concern for accurate information for prospective clients, or simply because lawyers are competitive, the result is the same; a natural check and balance exists to promote accurate information.
Lawyers Are Passionate About the Law, and Enjoy Discussing It
As many lawyers already know, legal question and answer websites like Avvo.com are a great place to share and learn about law. This is especially true for newer lawyers who can benefit from reading the answers of more experienced lawyers. Lawyers who contribute answers to legal consumers’ questions can fulfill multiple objectives simultaneously: they can sharpen legal knowledge, improve writing skills, and increase online presence. Not a bad deal! Taking the time to answer readers’ questions is also a form of pro bono.
Of course, actual legal practice is the best means to progress in one’s career. But the online resources mentioned above are great supplements to actual legal practice. Exposure to new ideas and challenging questions pushes a lawyer to employ critical thinking and to learn new concepts. This is the information age, after all. There has never been a better time to further one’s education.
*Jacob Regar is an associate attorney at the law firm, Barry Regar A Professional Law Corporation. Barry Regar APLC has over 40-years of experience helping accident victims. Barry Regar Law (www.barryregarlaw.com)