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How to Network at CLEs

By Casey C. Sullivan, Esq. on March 25, 2015 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Most lawyers don't live for CLEs, to put things mildly. However, there's a lot to be gained from CLEs, beyond whatever educational value they may have. While some CLEs can be solo activities, done in the dark at home, or from your phone on the go, many still bring together practitioners for some old-fashioned face to face learning.

And any gathering of lawyers is a chance to network. Get the most out of your education by using CLEs as a chance to make new connections with your fellow lawyers. Here's how.

1. Follow Up With the Instructor

Have a CLE instructor who is particularly talented or well respected? Someone who may be established in a practice area you're interested or just someone you think it would be good to know? Don't just leave an apple on their desk. Try to speak to them after the event or contact them online later to meet up for coffee. Boom -- connection made.

2. Hang with the Cool Kids

Less of a teacher's pet? Take a chance to connect with your peers then. Whether you're smoking in the boys room, or simply greeting colleagues before the event, as you make introductions, give a brief synopsis of who you are and what you do. If the CLE is, say, on the burgeoning field of equine law and you're looking for a way in, let the top horse lawyer in the room know how interested you are. If you're already an expert, sharing your experiences may lead to referrals in the future.

3. Enjoy Your CLE Over Some Fine Wine

CLE providers know you're not just there for the knowledge and they often design events to specifically enhance networking opportunities. A CLE provider might offer "brown bag" lunch events, for example. Between bites of pastrami is a perfect time to connect with another lawyer. You can earn CLE credit at South by Southwest, the tech showcase and indy-music festival, or get CLE for going on a wine tasting. Hey, even the Brooklyn Bar somehow offers CLE credit for attending a Yankees game.

So, instead of gritting your teeth next time you have to go to a CLE event, stick a few extra business cards in your pocket and get ready to make the most of it.

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