Opening Statements

Taking the CLE-nic Route

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With 43 jurisdictions now mandating continuing legal education, there are a whole lot of lawyers falling asleep in sub-basement-level hotel ballrooms while talking heads drone on and on and on about … uh … well, who can remember—but have you seen that sign-in sheet?

Luckily, there are far better ways to do CLE thanks to companies that combine education with adventure. Think of them as learning experiences you’ll never forget.


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Talk about excited utterances! Catch a glimpse of Hollywood glitterati at the Act of Communication’s Los Angeles program called “Sharpen Your Trial Skills and See Stars in Hollywood.”

Led by professional actors and trial consultants Alan Blumenfeld (the “Nightmare Man” on the NBC hit show Heroes) and Katherine James, participants can earn 12 hours of CLE credit over Columbus Day weekend by learning new techniques for courtroom storytelling—in between self-guided tours of stars’ homes and jaunts to Rodeo Drive and Beverly Hills. Can’t make it this October? Not to worry: There’s a golf-and-spa weekend in February 2009 dedicated to honing presentation skills, plus a two-day Santa Barbara stint that combines wine, food and witness prep.


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Nothing gets you thinking about rainmaking strat­egies quite like walking in the desert at sunset or gently elongating your spine in a yoga pose.

At least that’s the approach at the Miraval Business De­velopment Re­treat (PDF), running March 6-8 at the Miraval Life in Balance Resort and Spa in Tucson, Ariz. While no CLE credit is offered, the three-day retreat covers a comprehensive curriculum of client-generating techniques, including instruction on risk-taking and influencing with integrity; plus attendance is limited to 35, ensuring plenty of personalized attention. And because the core program runs from 8 a.m. to noon, you’ll have plenty of time to indulge in activities—and ideas.


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You’ve gotta love a company that divides its edu­cational offerings into ski classrooms and sun classrooms.

That’s how you pick your destination, er … CLE, through the American Educational Institute. The year-round “Medical-Dental-Legal Update” offers a 20-hour review of issues in medical-malpractice, risk management, health care law, practice man­agement and other selected topics—all organized around the ski lift hours or prime tanning hours.

Our favorite? The sem­inar in Whistler, British Columbia, with access to three alpine bowls, 33 lifts and more than 200 trails. And with all those other professionals angling for their mandated continuing education requirements, it just might be a great business development tool as well.


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Looking for something more exotic? How about Micronesia, where you can brush up on general litigation topics while exploring vibrant undersea worlds (and cool World War II shipwrecks) off the island coasts of Palau and Truk.

The Colstrip, Mont.-based CLE & Sea, which is owned by at­tor­ney/diving in­structor Virginia Knight, will be setting sail next February on this tax-deductible learning experience. Can’t wait until then? Knight’s also planning a 15-hour CLE drift-diving trip to Cozumel in Novem­ber. Signups for both trips be­gin in May.

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