Why Continuing Education Belongs at the Top of Your Professional To-Do List 

Question:

I’m swamped with work and need to add several continuing education classes to my already too-long list of things to do. I keep putting off my professional development because I never have enough free time. I need motivation to do better! Any advice? 

Answer:

Many legal professionals place earning continuing legal education at the bottom of their professional to-do list, often procrastinating until the end of the year or their license renewal deadline. But the truth is that there are many benefits to prioritizing continuing education and making it a year-round habit. Here are a few: 

 

1. Stay ahead of industry trends. By attending workshops or seminars regularly, you’ll get the scoop on the latest legal technology and regulatory information. A thorough understanding of a recent ruling or new case management software helps you work more efficiently and save time. 

 

2. Give your legal career a boost. If you’re considering asking for a salary increase or promotion or applying for another position, having taken CLE coursework in high-demand areas can boost your marketability and add to your value to your current employer. 

 

3. Improve your confidence. The better informed you are as a legal professional, the better you are at your job. You spend less time doubting your abilities and more time impressing your clients and colleagues. 

 

Many free continuing education resources exist, so don’t let lack of money get in the way of keeping up with the requirements. For starters, check these out: 
 

  • The American Bar Association (ABA) — The ABA offers a free CLE series for members. The options include live events and on-demand webinars. Attending in-person sessions is an excellent way to build your professional network.  
  • Legal industry associations — Many legal groups at the state level, such as your state bar or professional associations also offer free educational opportunities. Because they typically focus on local issues that are relevant to you and your clients, these are worth your time even beyond earning credits.  
  • 4FreeCLE — This blog is updated regularly with a list of free CLE credit courses and workshops on a wide range of topics, including ethical billing, handling data breaches and regulatory changes.  
  • Third party vendors — Legal research such as Fastcase and specialized staffing firms like Robert Half Legal are just twoexamples of companies that offer free webinars and professional development courses. 

 

Staying on top of continuing education coursework sharpens your skills and makes you a more valuable legal specialist — which is all the more reason that you should make it a professional priority.