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You’re Thinking About CLEs All Wrong

I’ve been a licensed attorney for nearly 15 years. That means I’ve suffered through a *lot* of continuing legal education classes, or CLEs. Very few, I’m sad to say, are memorable.

When I was thrust into a general counsel job at a large international company, I often attended CLEs to scope out attorneys from practice areas outside my own or from unfamiliar jurisdictions to see if they might be someone I’d like to hire as outside counsel. Again, very few presenters wowed me. And I realized very quickly that attorneys rarely view the chance to present CLEs as the business development they really are. Instead, they’re viewed as a chore.

CLEs can serve as exceptional outlets to express your expertise and differentiate yourself, but too often they’re wasted. We want to change that.

Over the course of our careers, my partner Ann marie Houghtailing and I have helped attorneys build multimillion dollar books of business and elevate themselves in the marketplace. And a critical part of our strategy is teaching our lawyer clients how to convert CLEs into client conversion and referral partner opportunities. This work has transformed the way our clients present without compromising their personality or character.

In our recent survey of lawyers and general counsel, just 9% of those polled said they find CLEs to be engaging, while 91% called them boring. All of them said a presenter’s skills were important, with a majority calling presentation skills more important than the actual content. Now, we understand and respect that to deliver CLE that will allow participants to earn credit with their applicable licensing agency, you’ve got to tick some boxes when it comes to content. But we also know that presenting continuing legal education material, when done well, is a powerful client conversion tool.

In our CLE Power Presenter course (available on demand), we walk lawyers through the ins and outs of creating high-converting CLE presentations. This ever-increasing virtual world demands a higher standard of impact, intimacy, and intelligence. What would happen if you stopped merely reporting information (and reading your slides — heaven help us!) and started connecting with your audience? A captive audience is that rare singular moment and space to develop relationships and express your expertise in a compelling way.

Join us in disrupting the age-old belief that CLEs can’t be engaging and dynamic.

Holly Amaya is co-founder of Story Imprinting, a full-service training and communications firm dedicated to teaching companies the art and science of storytelling through corporate training, executive coaching, and communications strategy. She has enjoyed a multifaceted career as a journalist, attorney, and communications strategist, but she’s been telling stories professionally since she snagged her first newspaper column in the Evansville (Ind.) Courier & Press at age 11. Her C.V. includes stints at Harper’s Bazaar in New York City, The Arizona Republic in Phoenix, in the office of a U.S. senator, and as general counsel of an international retail services provider.

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