How Do I Choose the Best Law Seminar?

C. Mitchell

Choosing a law seminar is largely a question of determining what sort of information or training you are looking to receive. Most law seminars are designed for practicing lawyers and often provide insight into new trends and legal developments in a specific field of law. Some are put on by bar associations and professional organizations, while others are hosted by law firms or other private groups. Many of the larger firms also periodically sponsor law seminars geared towards clients and potential clients. The most important thing about choosing a law seminar is knowing what you want to get out of it, then looking for opportunities that line up with your goals.

Most law seminars are designed for practicing lawyers and often provide insight into new trends and legal developments in a specific field of law.
Most law seminars are designed for practicing lawyers and often provide insight into new trends and legal developments in a specific field of law.

A law seminar can be a great way to either get or brush up on basic legal information. In order to get the most out of your seminar experience, however, it is important to choose an event that suits your needs. Seminars are put on for a variety of different reasons. Many offer continuing education credits for attorneys, but not all do — and even those that do might only offer credits to those licensed in certain jurisdictions. Some are put on for no cost, while others can be quite expensive and may require pre-registration well in advance.

One of the first places to start looking for seminar opportunities is with your local bar association or law licensing authority. Bar associations typically require lawyers licensed in their jurisdiction to complete a certain number of continuing legal education, or CLE, credits each year. They often provide lists of approved CLE programs as a service to lawyers.

Knowing that a program is approved for credit in your jurisdiction is a start. Most of the time, the subject of any given seminar is irrelevant to your licensing authority. Even if you primarily practice in intellectual property, for instance, you can usually still attend a seminar on retirement law or labor disagreements and get credit for it.

Still, it is usually best to attend seminars in your own discipline. Part of the point of most law conferences is to brief lawyers on updates and to introduce new practice tricks relevant to a specific kind of law. Networking with lawyers who do similar work is also a valuable part of most events.

A law seminar can vary from a luncheon lecture to a weekend-long presentation. Many of the longer law seminars are designed to be a way for attorneys to knock out an entire year’s worth legal education credits at once. These events are often held in attractive destinations and may even build some tourist activities into the agenda. In some cases, choosing the best law seminar is as much a matter of matching your interests as it is with coordinating your calendar and choosing your destination.

Some seminars are also made available online and can be participated in remotely. A law seminar can be streamed from a live presentation or may be conducted exclusively as a webcast. This sort of law seminar is particularly attractive to lawyers who who cannot, or do not otherwise have the time, to participate in person.

Not all seminars grant CLE credit, and not all are even designed for lawyers. Some types of law seminars are designed to provide a firm’s clients with briefs or practice trend updates. Others are put on by local government leaders or political candidates as a means of informing the voting public about pressing legal issues. Information on these seminars is usually available directly from the sponsoring organizations and are usually advertised very differently than seminars geared towards lawyers.

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