The most obvious selling point of giving a CLE—putting your face and knowledge in front of potential referral sources—may be up for debate. But direct business development aside, talking to a roomful of lawyers offers a slew of other benefits that are less obvious but no less valuable. Here’s a few.
Actual continuing education.
No matter how invested we might be in our areas of practice, we invariably have other legal interests that our existing professional lives don’t address.
Or perhaps we have a fascination with, say, ethics, that makes our colleagues’ eyes glaze over, but we’ve identified a way to approach it that’s actually engaging.
Or maybe we’re looking to expand into a new practice area—brewery law, for instance.
Presenting a CLE requires relatively little commitment, but still provides a deadline-driven excuse to explore a legal concept and distill your thoughts.
Presenting CLEs says that not only do you know your area of law, but you’re recognized as knowing your area of law. Flaunt this. Mention it to colleagues in the weeks leading up to your talk, announce it in your firm’s newsletter and social media, and use it at networking events to tell people what you’ve been up to.
Many lawyers have a specific public-speaking quirk that we’d like to address—maybe using non-words (“uh” etc.) or, like me, talking too quickly.
Others simply want to make themselves more compelling in court or to clients.
And a precious few have already honed their speaking to perfection, but still need to keep it sharp.
CLEs are an ideal opportunity to practice skills like diction, tone, and using eye contact to draw in your audience.
Talk for 50 minutes about something interesting, get 3 credits. Give four 2-hour CLEs every 2 years and you need never listen to your colleagues present again! (except perhaps for Ethics and Diversity…)
With CLEs, as in many things, the financial outcome is only one consideration of many. Don’t discount the full potential.