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Continuing Legal Education for Free

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The world of continuing legal education is changing—fast. The vendors providing these courses are facing the same challenges and issues faced by other publishers and are seeing lots of new competition and rapid changes in technology.

Where I practice, in North Carolina, we’re required to take 12 hours of approved courses each year. Some of us—board certified specialists—are required to take even more.

I’m cognizant of the fact that many of you aren’t reading this in the United States, and I have very limited knowledge of the continuing education requirements in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and any of the other countries where this site is read.

However, I do know that we all need education, regardless of whether obtaining the credit is mandatory.

There are constant changes in the law, and there are constant changes in the skills we require: we all need to keep growing as we gain experience and face new challenges.

One continuing education provider, Lawline.com, has done something fairly radical: it’s made all of its courses free. You can now visit the site, search the index, and educate yourself until you can’t stand it anymore. However, you will need to pay if you want the official credits.

Lawline offers quite a few family law courses as well as courses in trial skills, litigation, legal writing, evidence, and alternative dispute resolution. Of course, the site has a range of courses in other substantive areas of the law. The courses are well done, and many of the speakers are impressive.

Many of the Lawline courses are specific to a particular state, but even those courses offer valuable education: it’s helpful to get a sense of how it’s done in different jurisdictions. Of course, many courses are applicable regardless of the jurisdiction in which you practice.

I hope to see other education providers open the door with free access to their courses. I think we’re likely to reward those vendors who take this step when we need to purchase credits. We’re also more likely to commit more of our time to learning when the expense barrier comes down. Change is good.

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