Much is made in certain states about lawyers’ continuing education. In New York, everyone bemoans the often boring and somewhat difficult to obtain “ethics credits.” Here in Massachusetts, a proposed class for newly minted lawyers on how to run a practice can be traced to the lawyer unemployment numbers, the idea being that lawyers can’t find jobs, are starting their own firms, and need to be taught how. Whatever your state’s rules on asking lawyers to head back to school for a certain number of hours each year, there’s something to be said for lawyers continuing to grow and learn as their careers grow. So with that in mind, we present to you the Leafletters Back to School Edition. In other words, if we taught a CLE class, these are the subjects we might cover:

1. Understanding Technology for Technology Lawyers. Many lawyers work with companies whose core business centers on technology. Particularly in areas where many of our clients operate – the 128 corridor, Silicon Valley, Colorado – these clients are the lifeblood of the corporate legal practice. So it seems logical that these lawyers should understand at least a little bit about how technology works, so they can gain some context when working with their clients. It’s amazing (and rather unfortunate) how many lawyers don’t understand this. So we’ll be offering some simple lessons on the important technologies being developed by innovative companies.

2. Talking to Clients about Money. This is another area where lawyers have trouble. In their defense, it’s often not their fault. Most lawyers spend years billing away without seeing the invoice that goes out to the client. Nor are they often brought into the conversation when clients push back against fees. We think it would be great if lawyers got some coaching around basic budgeting and value conversations – like how to ask what a client’s expectations are for billing, what they’re willing to spend to resolve a certain issue, and what the two parties can do in the event they don’t agree on a reasonable price for services.

3. Project Management for Lawyers. We’re excited to see that this area is getting greater attention these days. It’s a big topic to cover, but in our eyes, getting lawyers to begin shifting their thinking of what a project looks like from “start billing, stop billing” to “create plan, execute plan, manage plan,” the better off we’ll all be. This class will be taught with a companion session called…

4. Why Knowledge Management Matters. Most lawyers don’t realize that they’ve already adopted some principles of knowledge management. This is the reason behind document management systems, form documents and templates, but KM can take lawyers much further than that. A robust KM effort can help lawyers create better, more consistent work products which deliver better results to clients and lower risk for the law firm. Sounds like a win/win, right?

Now of course our CLE curriculum is a work of fiction, but we’re happy to be seeing more lawyers talking about these useful topics. What other topics would you like to see in a day of Brightleaf CLE?

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