One of the most important things a law firm or lawyer can do is develop a positive reputation in their field of practice for their knowledge and skill. Lawyers can obviously accomplish through excellent reputation of their clients in court. This is the way most lawyers solely seek to develop their reputation.
But an often overlooked way to develop this reputation is often missed by many lawyers. One of the best ways to establish a solid reputation is through teaching continuing legal education seminars (CLEs) in a lawyer’s field of practice.
For some lawyers, they do not look at an opportunity like this positively because teaching at a CLE does not result in the lawyer making a fee, except a modest honorarium in some circumstances. When considering this, many lawyers simply feel as if they can’t take the time or energy to teach a CLE because they have bills to pay.
They don’t feel as if they have the time to give to putting together materials, preparation and then presenting. They have clients to represent, after all, where they are getting paid. So, many wonder why they should teach a CLE?
For some lawyers and law firms that are barely making ends meet, this can be a realistic problem. Those lawyers may need to devote their time toward making their practice profitable. But to the extent a lawyer does have a little time to devote, they often should consider donating some amount of their time. Eventually, as their practice becomes more successful, they should consider donating even more of their time.
Many would ask why they should donate their time to teaching their CLEs when they are not getting paid to do it? In addition to the obvious reason of getting your own CLE requirements filled by teaching, below are some of the reasons why it makes sense for most:
1.) When an attorney teaches at a CLE, they are giving back their knowledge and experience to other lawyers. This can help enhance the legal profession as a whole. If is a good thing, after all, when other lawyers can learn from the experience of others to become better lawyers, provide better representation, etc.
2.) If thorough materials are put together in preparation for the CLE, the lawyer can make themselves even more knowledgeable about their practice field. When lawyers are running from courtroom to courtroom, it can often be hard to pull back, do legal research and find out about recent court decisions, statutes changes and legal articles that enunciate new strategies or developments. But when an attorney is teaching a CLE, it can force them to do some research, pull back and keep themselves up-to date. This will inevitably help that lawyer when they go back into the courtroom.
3.) When an attorney teaches at a CLE, they are enhancing their own presentation skills. There is a certain amount of pressure that exists from having to stand up in front of others to present. But if an attorney can teach regularly enough that teaching a CLE is completely comfortable, that attorney is going to better be able to try a case and appear in court. They will also be a better ambassador for their firm. They will also be better able to hold meetings and teach within their own firm.
4.) If an attorney is teaching a CLE, they often can take their materials and convert them into great webpage content. Since webpage content is king as it relates to where a webpage ranks, turning CLE materials into webpage content is often invaluable.
5.) When an attorney teaches a CLE, the entity holding the CLE often sends or e-mails registration information to other attorneys and judges within the legal community. This can have a positive effect in terms of enhancing a lawyer or law firm’s reputation. It can also lead to referrals from other attorneys who do not practice in the same area when they see that a certain lawyer is regularly teaching.
6.) Donating one’s time is a positive just like donating to charity. When an attorney gives their time, it is hard for others not to take notice, appreciate and respect that the lawyer is spending their valuable time helping others lawyers free of compensation. It can also help a lawyer when others see them without their advocate cap on in court to really understand what that attorney is actually about.
7.) When an attorney teaches at a CLE, they can list that CLE on their law firm biography. When potential clients see that a lawyer regularly teaches other lawyers at CLEs in a certain practice area, it can lead to potential clients being impressed. This can lead to a lawyer obtaining more leads and getting better cases.
At the end of the day, most lawyers never seek out opportunities to teach CLEs. If they happen to be asked, many also turn away the invitation. But lawyers and law firms who see the big picture can really benefit from teaching at CLEs.
Of course, the lawyer has to be impressive if they are going to do it. They really do have to prepare, put together great materials and then captivate the audience. But how to do this is really a topic for another day. The first step is simply agreeing to do it.
If you have any thoughts, feel free to share them below.