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If you're like most lawyers, you've waited until the last minute to ensure you have all your credits for Minimum Continuing Legal Education (MCLE) or Continuing Legal Education (CLE). Or maybe you're the type to plan out a few credits a month (no need to brag), but you want to avoid the price tag that comes with many CLEs. Whether you're looking for the latest developments in family law and estate planning or something a little more niche, keeping up on credits is an integral part of being in the legal profession.
Lucky for you, thanks to the wonderful learning tool that is the internet, you can probably get a good chunk of the credits you need, if not all of them, while sitting on your couch, in your pajamas, eating cereal.
Below, you'll find a few resources to knock out those CLEs online, for free.
Check with the attorney general's office in your state to see if they host CLE programming. The Minnesota attorney general's office, for example, hosts live CLE webinars and maintains a list of on-demand courses available for CLE credit. They'll often host CLEs on developments in criminal law, consumer protection, and constitutional issues.
If you work for an attorney general's office, trainings put on by the National Association of Attorneys General will also usually count toward your CLE requirements.
Speaking of where you work, be sure to check with your employer to see if they sponsor any CLE courses or are willing to reimburse you for costs related to maintaining your license. If you work for a law firm, they might pay for several employees to attend a CLE related to your practice area. Or, if you work for a corporation like Thomson Reuters (like we do here at FindLaw!), there might be enough "recovering lawyers" on staff that the company will host CLEs.
Many state and county law libraries organize live webinars and on-demand courses. The Law Library Association of Greater New York keeps a calendar of upcoming educational programming, including CLEs.
Aren't librarians the best?
The Practising Law Institute (yes, practice with an "s") can be a great resource for getting free CLE credits. It's a bit tricky to navigate, but if you can tolerate not-so-user-friendly search engines, you can usually find free courses offering several CLE credits at a time, especially in the areas of intellectual property and cybersecurity.
Filtering out all the courses that cost actual money isn't an option, but if you run a search of "on-demand" content using "free" as your search term, you'll be sure to find a few. Just make sure that the course qualifies for credit in your state before launching an on-demand CLE. There are also filters to help you track down those elusive “elimination of bias” credits.
Both the American Bar Association (ABA) and your state bar association can be great sources of CLE programs. These CLEs are not exactly "free," as they require membership for access. But if you're already a member, be sure to check out their catalogs.
Some volunteer organizations will also have free, on-demand CLEs, but you'll have to dig for those a bit more. The same goes for your law school alma mater, which may offer live webcasts of CLE events or even some on-demand free CLEs. And if you come across a program that is interesting but not free, remember, some CLEs are worth paying for.
Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.