Not Miserable Continuing Legal Education

EDITORS NOTE: Outkick CLE bills itself as “The least miserable way to earn CLE.” Anyone who’s attended or viewed endless hours of continuing legal education programs – often to learn, but sometimes, just to fulfill mandatory requirements – will recognize the pithy statement as a standard that’s yearned for. The provider achieves this lofty goal with two innovative initiatives: profit-sharing for the presenters and going for quality over quantity with their programming. Keep in mind that “innovation” in the staid, burdensome-archaic-regs, industry that is CLE, makes the rest of the legal profession innovators look like Elon Musk by comparison.

The former initiative is what brought Outkick CLE to my attention: speakers actually getting paid to present, and not for “exposure.” That ship has sailed. Exposure is easily gained through social media, blogging, and writing for other blogs and publications. Outkick CLE presenters don’t just get a small, one-time check, they share in the profits, which means they’re invested in how well the program does. Win-win-win: attorney-provider-presenter.

I reached out to co-founder, Dan Beasley, to share his journey and vision for this new venture. Here is his story. – Tim Baran


First off, let’s address the elephant in the room. CLE is awful. This is an official Outkick CLE position. CLE. Is. Awful.

We are the only CLE provider I know that takes this position. Which means, we are the only intellectually honest CLE sponsor. This is our secret sauce.

Outkick CLE was started by lawyers that were tired of enduring mind-numbing CLE. We think this experience makes our CLE better.

Why is CLE so miserable?

There are a lot of reasons why CLE is bad. Let’s take a look below:

1. The audience doesn’t want to be there. The presenter doesn’t either

Lawyers are busy. They have better things to do than sit in a conference room watching a miserable lecture. Look around at your next CLE program. You will see a lot of open computers and lawyers surfing the internet or working on email. Nobody is paying attention. It’s an accepted practice.

Now consider the presenters. They are also busy lawyers. They don’t have time to make compelling CLE presentations. It shows.

The result is a educational charade. Audience members don’t learn anything, teachers are only there to avoid going to CLE themselves, and for some reason, participation is required.

2. No consistent curriculum

I think I have taken the same LLC presentation 3 or 4 times. I didn’t mean to and it wasn’t obvious when I signed up. The presenters were different. The name of the course was different. The content was basically the same. Currently there is no continuity in CLE curriculum. Courses do not build off of each other. Materials do not reference each other. You end up with an endless sea of a la cart options and no cohesive curriculum. This is true among courses from the same sponsor. If CLE is about education, this is a problem.

3. The state regulations are a pointless burden

Online courses basically have to be one-hour videos or they are not eligible for credit in many states. At Outkick, we would love to explore some different formats for our courses – think Kahn Academy for lawyers with short blasts of content around topics that build off each other, or podcasts that are approved for credit, or more interactive elements. The problem is, many states won’t accept this as CLE credit. When we make courses, we need them to be eligible for credit in as many states as possible. So we are stuck doing a 1 hour lecture.

This is just the tip of the regulatory iceberg. CLE rules are a big jumbled mess. Every state has a different application process and different policies. Some states approve courses in 24 hours, others can take 6 weeks. Why one state can approve a course in 24 hours and another take 6 weeks is beyond me.

Here is what makes Outkick CLE different:

1. Interesting lawyers and interesting topics

In media, content is king. We consider Outkick to be a media company. As such, we have no desire to fill our site with uninteresting content just to have more courses. The world does not need more CLE content, it needs better CLE content.

Because of this, we partner with interesting lawyers. Lawyers with successful blogs or followings. Lawyers that are used to creating content that people want to consume. Then we provide a way to repackage their content as CLE. Our presenters include Clay Travis (Fox Sports and outkickthecoverage.com), Kristi Dosh (the Sports Biz Miss), Keith Lee (Associate’s Mind and Above the Law) and Hilary Bricken (Canna Biz Law Blog and Above the Law). These presenters have hundreds of thousands of followers on Twitter and create great content on their own. Their CLEs are really good too. We are adding new presenters as quickly as we can find good ones.

2. We pay our presenters

We respect the time of our presenters and we want them to have a vested interest in the quality of their CLE. That’s why we pay our presenters for every course sold. It’s the right thing to do and will result in better programming for our customers. A lot of traditional CLE providers don’t do this. They tell presenters that CLE is somehow a marketing platform and will attract referrals. This is ridiculous. I can think of 100 more effective ways to market legal services than by giving content away to other lawyers. CLE is not business development.

I’d like to share a customer testimonial that I am particularly proud of. After a live CLE event, the partner in the Atlanta office of a large firm said “I did about 1/6 the amount of email I normally do in CLEs. That was actually interesting.” I’m glad this lawyer enjoyed our CLE. I’m also glad he got actual work done too.

We would love for you to try us out. If you go to outkickcle.com/pricing and sign up for a subscription with coupon code “TRYIT” we will give you a year’s worth of CLE for $99. This will only be good through November 15, 2015. We hope you agree that it’s some of the least miserable CLE credit around.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Outkick CLE (Twitter: @ok_cle) was started in 2014 by Clay Travis and Dan Beasley. Clay is licensed to practice law in Tennessee and the US Virgin Islands. He works as a TV analyst for Fox Sports and is the founder and editor of Outkick the Coverage, the nation’s largest independent sports site. He is a graduate of Vanderbilt University School of Law.

Dan Beasley is licensed to practice law in Tennessee. He practices corporate and healthcare law with Clark Business & Health Law and is an investor and board member of Kindful, a software company that helps non-profits raise money. Dan is a graduate of the University of Tennessee College of Law. You can email him at dtbeasley@gmail.com.