• August 3, 2012

Forty-five state bars require that lawyers pursue “continuing legal education” (“CLEs”) as a condition to keep a license to practice law in those states.  Of these, forty-one allow for on-line on-demand CLEs.  Not so in Minnesota.

Why not?

Some of us are trying to change this.

Others argue that on-line on-demand CLEs would eliminate the give-and-take between presenters and audience.  This argument is flawed for a few reasons.  First, the amount of give-and-take in live CLEs is more often than not, pathetic.  Trying to preserve a current system because of one poorly functioning aspect of it is not very persuasive. Second, and more importantly, there is technology available so that one could actually engage in “Q and A” with on-line on-demand CLEs.  One can, for example, have a running bulletin board of Q & A.  This would have an added advantage over “live CLEs” in that the on-going interactions would be in the nature of “knowledge management,” a repository or learning, available over time.

Some opponents argue that the availability of on-line on-demand CLEs would attract competition of the worst sort — a kind of race to the bottom for CLE providers — and current providers would face new competition from cut-rate competitors who would undercut Minnesota’s current CLE options with inferior product, cheap in both price and quality.

This argument does not give sufficient credit (so to speak) to Minnesota lawyers who, of course, are the consumers of the “CLE product.”  If Minnesota lawyers are rational and intelligent consumers, wouldn’t it seem that they are in the best position to balance cost and benefit, to judge between cheap fluff and actual value in a CLE presentation?  And why would it not be that an on-line on-demand CLE market would function properly — that price and quality would be optimally balanced (to the extent that is ever possible in any market)?

It is about time, Minnesota.  21st century and all that.  Let’s do it!

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