Opening Statements

The ABCs of CLE

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Photo courtesy of Tim Baran

Cost and confusion. Those two words sum up the experience of many lawyers and administrators wading through the maze of state regulations while trying to get continuing legal education programs certified.

For Tim Baran, those two words spelled opportunity.

Baran, while working as the head of CLE for a New York City law firm, also experienced the frustration that so many others do while trying to set up CLE programs for his firm. But instead of throwing up his hands in frustration, Baran hung a shingle and created uMCLE, an online business that helps law firms and other businesses obtain accreditation for their continuing legal education programs.

“There is so much need for this business,” Baran says. “I am frank about the fact that companies should be aware it is an administrative burden to get accredited.”

The requirements vary, based on the type of entity seeking CLE accreditation. For example, the paperwork for a solo attorney seeking accreditation of a webinar in 20 states may be more onerous than for a firm looking for accreditation in fewer jurisdictions.

Baran’s company now helps firms navigate the regulations in the 45 states that have adopted mandatory or minimum continuing legal education rules and regulations. Services offered include attainment of course accreditation and accredited provider status, and accreditation of online, on-demand programming.

So far, Baran has used social media, including Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, as his primary marketing tools. But those tools have also helped him engage other professionals in conversations about what he calls “challenging, ambiguous and archaic regulation.”

In fact, Baran is so confident in the ability of social media to “bring about change in the CLE accreditation process,” he even quips that he’d be willing to change his business model should a less complex system come to pass.

Until then, 10-12 clients each month look to him to help navigate the morass.

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