My friend, Tim Baran of www.uMCLE.com, recently conducted a poll of CLE providers. Asking “are your course registrations up or down?” Tim compiled some interesting data. Without a doubt, most CLE providers are feeling the economic crunch as registrations are down for the majority of respondents.
Here at West LegalEdcenter, it is very much a mixed bag. Our live attendance has shown a downturn for many events, but we continue to have strong turnout at others. For online usage, registrations have grown significantly, much as we might expect with limited travel budgets and attorneys looking to get more for less.
Have we seen any trends? In looking at the comments from respondents to Tim’s poll, as well as speaking with my colleagues and my own experience, I’d say no. At least not easily identifyable trends. Practice areas affected spread across the range, with obvious exceptions such as bankruptcy. Destination events are likely down, but a few providers report significant attendance at some of their premier programs. Even with the upturn in online that we have been seeing, there is no clear trend in redirecting live attendance to the online audience, it appears much more incidental.
What’s making these situations so difficult from my perspective, is that it’s been very challenging to then plan resources. With limited staff and budget, where will my accreditation resources be best deployed? Without truly identifying the trends or causal relationships between attendance and the factors which drive it, how do I know what to accredit where and when?
This past year for me has been as much about reacting as it has about strategically planning. This is not to say that I don’t plan – I can’t tell you all how much time I spend doing so! But being flexible and willing to change my plans if the situation warrants will get me, hopefully fairly successfully, through the often stress-filled year end.
I look forward to continued analysis from Tim and others in the field. Maybe we will identify trends. One I’d especially like to see is a trend toward recovery in attendance - across formats, across locations, across providers.