Building Better CLE: Tips for Bar Associations

It can be difficult for many attorneys to find good Continuing Legal Education (CLE) courses. Fortunately, there are lots of resources available to turn to! Recently, Vocalmeet attended ACLEA’s 58th annual meeting, which was dedicated to helping bar associations improve their professional development programs.

Most states require a certain number of CLE hours each year to maintain a law license, but it can be hard to find quality courses that fit members’ busy schedules. And–let’s be honest–most CLE courses aren’t exactly the most exciting things around!

Thankfully, it doesn’t have to be this way! By following a few simple steps, bar associations can start building better CLE courses with ease.

1. Harnessing the Power of Niche Content

When it comes to CLE courses, one size does not fit all. Attorneys will often look for courses specific to their particular area of practice, so the more specialized the content you provide, the better!

Let’s take a look at a couple of examples. An attorney who works in criminal law will not be interested in a course on tax law; likewise, a corporate lawyer will not want to sit through a course on family law.

This much may seem obvious, but it can go a step further. Your association should search for interesting, relevant, and unique topics for its courses. Yes, you should have more general courses–these are perfect for introductory programs!–but if you want to really bring value to your membership, try thinking outside the box.

Try to make your content timely. Is there a precedent-setting case in the news? Perhaps you’ll want to do a deep-dive webinar on the details. Are there laws being reexamined or updated? You could cover these, as well!

Additionally, by partnering with experts in various niche areas, bar associations can offer courses that are tailored to specific practices. This will ensure that attendees get the most relevant and useful information possible.

Not only will this make your CLE courses more interesting for attendees, but it will also make your audience more likely to return in the future. You want to capture their intention with insightful, valuable content. After all, why would an attorney take an irrelevant, useless course from their bar association? It’s all about quality!

Once you’ve made your content, make sure to categorize it thoroughly. You want your members to be able to actually find your courses! Keep everything as organized and accessible as possible.

If your bar association is looking to build better CLE courses, consider harnessing the power of tailored content. It’s one surefire way to interest and engage new members! Now, let’s look at a few more:

2. CLE for the Next Generation: Attracting New Members

As the legal profession evolves, so must the way bar associations provide Continuing Legal Education. The needs of lawyers are changing, and bar associations must adapt to continue to meet those needs. In particular, there is a need to engage new lawyers in CLE programs.

First, you have to let your audience know what’s available. Make sure to promote your programs across your association’s social media channels. To spice things up, try offering seasonal packages, keeping things timely and relevant. Remember to be consistent; if you only post rarely and sporadically, you won’t stay in the minds of your members for long!

Next, you want to make things interesting. You can try incorporating gamification into your programs; by making them interactive and offering digital badges as achievement-style rewards, you’ll be upping the excitement factor of your courses. You could even incorporate–selectively!–a few choice memes to amuse your audience.

Third, it’s important to make sure the programs you offer are affordable. New lawyers often have large student loan debts and may be working in jobs that do not pay high salaries. Discounts on CLE programs for new members can make them more accessible to new lawyers.

By offering relevant, convenient, and affordable CLE programs, bar associations can better engage new lawyers with their educational offerings. This, in turn, will help to ensure that your members’ careers–and your association’s membership base–continue to thrive!

3. Two Birds, One Stone: the Value of the Hybrid Events 

As the world becomes increasingly mobile and virtual, it can be difficult to know how to best engage your members; is it better to do in-person or online sessions?

The answer is simple: host a hybrid event!

Hybrid events are a combination of in-person and virtual courses, and they offer several benefits to both bar associations and their members. There are a number of ways to make your event hybrid, like livestreaming the session on your association’s website, or else recording and posting it online after the event–or, even better, both!

Hybrid CLE courses allow members who cannot attend in-person to still participate and receive credit. This is especially beneficial for members who have busy schedules. Livestreamed courses take care of geographical limitations, and on-demand recorded courses open the field up to everyone.

Hybrid CLE courses allow bar associations to further their reach and increase their earning potential at the same time. You’re making your session accessible to an entire second audience–without losing the first–and bypassing the most common barriers to entry for in-person events. This means you can earn more revenue than from an in-person event alone!

The use of hybrid CLE courses is a win-win for both bar associations and their members. By offering these courses, bar associations can ensure that their members are able to receive the education they need–while simultaneously expanding their reach and non-dues revenue!

You may also like: The Top 5 Strategies for Bar Associations to Increase CLE Revenue in 2021 and Beyond

When it comes to building better CLE for your bar association, it’s best to pay attention to the basics: focus on tailoring your content, attracting new members, and increasing accessibility. You want solid, quality courses that no one else offers; you want to attract new members with your value and ease of use; and you want to reach as wide an audience as possible. Follow ACLEA’s footsteps and “Adjust, Collaborate, and Elevate”!