I recently had the opportunity to get to know more about Tim Baran, founder of uMCLE, an incredibly useful resource for staying up-to-date and keeping a pulse on the trends and discussions happening in the CLE industry. Tim has been a great source for answering questions and exchanging ideas! While our schedules did not recently mesh well – Tim did all the heavy lifting as he answered my questions via email exchange.
Tim, please tell me a little about your background. Education, family, work?
I was born in South America of South Asian heritage. I migrated to the US with family as an adolescent, and have called New York City my home for over 15 years – I still love it! I wandered through six non-consecutive and lamentably uneventful years of higher education. Then I fell into librarianship, earning my chops along the way at the Third Circuit court of Appeals, Cardozo Law School, and for the decade prior to jumping into the crazy, wonderful world of entrepreneurship, Director of Library Services and Continuing Legal Education at the New York City law firm of Anderson Kill & Olick (AKO).
What did you think you would be when you grew up?
Well, my dad is a minister, evangelist, and former president of a Bible college (Guyana). As a kid, I thought it would be huge but pretty cool footsteps to follow. But as I chose my own path, including spiritually, reality dictated otherwise. Then I wanted to be a teacher, band member, therapist (physical and psychological)....the list is pretty long!
When someone asks you what you do, how do you respond?
I'm an entrepreneur, currently providing MCLE accreditation services, and an advocate – for change in the rules and regulations, the very concept of MCLE – how it's created, delivered, and tracked. Part pragmatic, part idealistic.
When did you first become involved with CLE?
While serving at AKO, New York became a mandatory continuing legal education (MCLE) state. The library director at the time, Alina Alvarez, whom I greatly admire, entrusted me with the challenge of getting the firm accredited as a provider. Then, together we expanded and ran the program.
Needing new challenges. Burdened to make a difference. And, not insignificantly, not wanting the tech revolution to pass me by. Working as a director in a New York City law firm simply did not allow time for the exploration of these new mediums and platforms like Twitter and the social media spectrum.
What drives/motivates you most with what you’re doing now?
That in some small way, I can be a part of a movement to help challenge convention, embracing change and progress, exploring and finding more effective and efficient practices in the legal profession as it relates to MCLE.
You’re kind of a techie – what’s your favorite gadget?
The iPhone. Nothing comes close. It's my nerve center. I blog, Twitter, Facebook, email, check weather, get directions, read the NY Times, take and store photos, listen to music...it's my news aggregator, timepiece, and alarm clock (when I choose to set it). The only thing is doesn't do is make my coffee. Don't care much for Apple and their secretive practices and the cult-like following, but the iPhone truly, is life-changing.
MCLE rules across all states are riddled with inconsistencies. If you could standardize ONE thing across all CLE jurisdictions, what would it be?
Reciprocal accreditation for attorneys and providers. It would significantly diminish my primary revenue source, but it's something that simply has to happen! In fact, I recently wrote a post about this very subject.