Every attorney in the United States is required to take continuing legal education (CLE) courses. Even if CLE was suddenly no longer a requirement, it’d still be a necessity. It brings innumerable benefits to you as a person and as an attorney, and ensures you can deliver on the promises you make to clients.
The Importance of Continuing Legal Education
Continuing legal education’s major benefit is right there in its name. You can’t continue to practice year after year using the same tricks that worked when you were a young hotshot.
Laws, technologies and approaches change regularly, sometimes in subtle ways. Success hinges on your willingness to build new skills and hone the skills you already have. The legal industry knows this. That’s why states set a minimum requirement of CLE hours.
Nothing negative comes from broadening your legal horizons. As your skillsets expand, so do your qualifications. When you explore unfamiliar areas of law, you may discover that a type of practice you had never thought about pursuing is exactly what your career needed.
There’s some important schmoozing that goes on, too. CLE provides excellent networking opportunities which can be especially valuable to novice attorneys seeking advice. But even some grizzled veterans could benefit from the exchange of ideas – especially if they’re a little baffled by a current case. (It happens to the best of us.)
Continuing Legal Education in Texas
Texas CLE requirements include 15 hours of study, completed within 24 months for newly-licensed lawyers or a year for those holding their license. MCLE (minimum continuing legal education) years begin on the first day of the month you were born, and ends on the last day of the month before one year later. Failure to comply beyond the grace period results in a fine between $100 and $300.
As per everything in this field, all courses taken must be approved by the Texas Bar Association, and may be completed in a number of different ways – in a classroom, online, participating in seminars, attending lectures or independent study. 12 of the 15 hours must be in accredited CLE courses. Three hours can be completed as independent study. In addition, at least three hours must pertain to legal ethics or professional responsibility. One of those three can be completed as independent study.
As hours are completed, you have to submit proof to the State Bar of Texas. If you happen to go over the 15 – great! Make sure to let them know! Make sure to let your clients know as well.
Fifteen hours in a year is not a whole lot, honestly. In order for an attorney to stand out, he or she needs to go above and beyond the minimum needed to meet bar requirements. Going the extra mile means striving to learn everything you can about the latest technologies and techniques. You should exert the effort to extend your CLE hours whenever possible – it’ll help you, and it’ll help your clients even more.
Mark Thiessen practices what he preaches. He knows that exceeding Texas CLE standards helps clients clinch their verdicts because he’s made it a central component of his practice. In addition, he imparts his knowledge to other attorneys looking to sharpen their skills in criminal defense. Learn more about Mark Thiessen’s CLE courses and speaking engagements.