It’s no surprise that technology has dramatically changed the legal industry, and CLE in particular. As a marketing director for a national CLE provider, I’ve realized that lawyers and CLE professionals alike must learn to adapt to new technologies and use them to their benefit before they miss out on valuable education and sales opportunities.
I couldn’t agree more with Gina’s commentary on a recent presentation about this subject at the ACLEAAnnual Meeting. Robert Ambrogi’s “How Technology is Rewiring Lawyers’ Brains… and What it Means for CLE”was compelling and relevant, and is a must-watch for anyone in the CLE field. (I had the opportunity to watch Robert present live at ACLEA and ordered the webcast to share with some of my colleagues.) [NOTE from Gina: The presentationis now available to view on demand at ACLEA.]
Robert is completely right when he says that technology is a double-edged sword. There are both positive and negative repercussions that go along with any new technology, and legal technology is no exception.
I’ve worked in the CLE industry for almost 20 years and I’ve seen a lot of changes in how lawyers fulfill their CLE. It’s not all about print resources and trips to Hawaii anymore. People are taking advantage of webcasts, online materials and mp3 downloads. Entire firms and legal departments are offering subscription-based, online solutions to their lawyers. You can even access CLE on your cell phone or through YouTube.
All of this has been a game changer, and many of the changes have been positive.
New technologies have made CLE more affordable. Sole practitioners can access materials they never would have afforded before and benefit from new knowledge gained. Technology also means more flexibility. Now, firms can provide CLE in house and tailor it to accommodate their lawyers’ schedules. Overall, the availability and accessibility of resources has increased overwhelmingly, and sharing knowledge is positive for everyone involved.
But it’s not all a bed of roses. With increased availability and accessibility comes the issue of quality control. There is so much material out there that it’s becoming harder and harder to police, and in some cases results in lower quality CLE. Face-to-face networking has been a major casualty of the technology boom. Lawyers aren’t going to as many live courses as they did before, and have less opportunities to network with lawyers from other firms. Free legal resources are also available to layman, which means that more unqualified individuals are doing their own legal work.
Despite these drawbacks, new technologies have changed the legal industry for the better. We’ve made it a point at ALI-ABAto embrace technology and have transformed ourselves to meet the needs of an ever-evolving legal profession. We’re working hard to help lawyers balance the demands of their professional and personal lives by making CLE easier to fulfill. And we won’t stop anytime soon.
I know there’s still a lot of change on the horizon for legal technology and look forward to seeing what happens next. Until then, I encourage all CLE professionals to make technology a priority in their organizations and take advantage of all of the benefits it has to offer.
*Amy Danziger Shapiro is the Director of Strategic Marketing for the Philadelphia-based American Law Institute-American Bar Association (ALI-ABA), the first national provider of continuing legal education. She has 19 years of experience in the legal education industry. She holds a B.A. from the University of Pittsburgh and a J.D. from Widener University School of Law. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
ALI-ABA recently debuted the ALI-ABA Knowledge Portal, an online, subscription-based legal content and education resource that provides attorneys with the tools to access and complete CLE requirements and conduct secondary research.