The Innovative CLE

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My keynote presentation at ACLEA (Association of Continuing Legal Education) in New York City on July 26, 2010.

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  • George Barnard Shaw said .....

    “If you have an apple and I have an apple and we exchange these apples then you and I will still each have one apple. But if you have an idea and I have an idea and we exchange these ideas, then each of us will have two ideas.”
  • So my goal today is to do just one thing: To give each of you at least one idea you can take home and share to help make the lawyers you serve better.....


  • To this.

    So I know what you’re thinking right now. Why should I listen to Matt Homann?

    Who are you and why the (heck) should I listen to anything you have to say. You’re not a CLE provider and haven’t spent any time in my shoes.


  • I’m a speaker. And before that a lawyer who ran my own practice for almost ten years.
  • Facilitated over 300 corporate meetings, legal events and law firm retreats in the last four years.

  • My company is LexThink. I have a unique “job” I get to work with lawyers and law firms,

    I also get a chance to work with senior executives of big companies as I facilitate their meetings.


  • I’m also terribly curious. And I make time to exercise my curiosity.

  • I also like to experiment. I’ve come by my knowledge of what works and what doesn’t by not having a lot of stuff work.....
  • Big (and sometimes, even little changes) don’t come from asking and answering small questions.
  • when I told him what I was thinking, he suggested I wear one of these....
  • As you answer that question: So, I challenge you to ignore “precedent” for a bit. Don’t look to “what we’ve always done.” Instead, think answer this one question:


    “what other CLE organizations” are doing that? Instead, think about how you (or the firms you work with) can be first/innovative/etc.

    First mover advantage

  • Firms run by other lawyers just like you. They’re scared, too....

    A bunch of inventors waiting to be the second to have a great idea. Innovators.

    The converse is also true, just because we aren’t seeing everyone else doing something doesn’t mean they’ve tried it before and failed. Undervalue our own ideas....
  • At least for this next hour, put aside the “we can’t do that where I’m from,” “We tried that ten years ago and it didn’t work” and “I could really use another cup of coffee” thoughts and open up to a new world of CLE
  • Technology Slide. We have a tendency to think about the “future” of things as coping with changing technology..... “technology” works better sometimes...
  • Everybody wants to talk about how technology has changed.

  • Everyone talks about how much technology has changed.

  • flying cars running on floppy disks.
  • But, the thing that has changed most is the people.
  • Disengaged. Who’s touched their phone in the last 60 seconds?
  • And if it is bad when people have to sneak a peak under the table to check their fantasy football scores, imagine what they can do in their office or at home....
  • Learning to Know
    vs.
    Searching for one-time Use
  • Second largest search engine.
  • And because of search, the location of the information doesn’t matter any more.
  • Rule # 1: Online delivery of CLE doesn’t improve engagement.

    If you’re trying to duplicate an experience many find less than superb, why?
  • If apple’s only innovation was selling first year ipods using a different pricing scheme every year, who’d keep buying them?

    Don’t get me wrong, pricing can be innovative, but selling the same thing a different way only gets you so far....
  • People only complain about the price of things they really don’t want to buy.
  • Want to wail about costs/fees/profits/etc.?, prepare to share them.
  • If you’re law firms aren’t asking “How can we serve you better?” Tell them, here’s our wish-list and our non-negotiables.

  • Not everything I share will work for all of you.


  • Make a list of the things that are “non-negotiable” and then think about what would happen if you eliminated one at a time.
  • Identify your worst clients and stop serving them -- or at least make it hard for them to serve you.

    Ignore them at least.

    Every speaker has this situation. There are people who don’t like us....
  • Focus on delivering surprise to your best attendees.

    Health Club here in NYC ditched their marketing budget -- client surprise budget
  • The average things people will care about at the end of your program and remember is three to five.

    Same goes for your marketing materials.
  • We can remember small doses of information. Reason why we don’t remember phone numbers with area codes very well. Process small chunks....

    Same goes with toothpaste. Target. Too many choices, people not only make bad ones, but they often forgo making a choice at all....
  • too much variety is a bad thing...
  • five
  • Don’t ask your attendees what they want from CLE. Ask them instead what challenges they need to solve.

    Microsoft.... Training, outlook vs. make more sales calls.
  • Ask five things to improve.... While they’re there....

    Build a CLE advisory panel....

    Schedule time to call them....

    Call five random attendees and do in-depth follow up with them.


  • Don’t have to be paid. But train, etc...
  • Every speaker I know wants to get better at what they do.

    Tell them how they can improve (and make your life easier). Grade them. And give them testimonials.... Because, we live in a ......
  • We live in a ratings economy. From Amazon to google, people want (and need) to trust the ratings of others before doing something: strangers validating every decision we make.
    And share the result.
  • Growing lawyers. Brain drain. Cost/

    Incentivize use of young lawyers by firms, not discourage it.
  • Save time for questions and answers.

    Six minute speeches. Top three points.... Be around to answer questions after....

    Optimist Example....

    It doesn’t need to be at the end of the seminar.



  • Rethink the nametag.
  • See what the buzz is about.

    Fastest growning conferences... user generated content....

    Unconferences ....

  • uncola, unconference, attend one....
  • Provide more white space.

    Places to work, think
  • Attention they can pay to your program inversely proportional to the attention they’re paying to the outside world.

    Give them an option, though. Move around....


  • Obvious, but true. The best businesses are built to serve the best customers. And looking around the room at some of the lawyers and sponsors here, I’m guessing they’ve identified you as the best customers.
  • Throughout history, people have played to learn.
    People want to play together.

    Learning theory readdressing value of games as learning.

  • Iterate, measure, try....

    Which brings me to my final point....

  • Experiment. For every three hour CLE, add 30 minutes to one hour of experimental info.


    never require template slides, pledge for speakers (won’t bore, read slides, don’t know any better), try one new thing each CLE, InnovateCLE.com,



    Help room. Work room

  • Boot camp.

    Why not try things here.
  • Is shorter and more concentrated better? What about asking your speakers to do ten six minute speeches, then stick around for an hour or more of small-group discussions?

    Ignite Law.
  • Why don’t speakers get a chance to speak here? Does it really only help them?

    What’s the best thing you’ve done this year? Best marketing program? Worst mistake?



  • The Innovative CLE

    1. 1. FutureCLE Ten Bold Proposals for Change by Matthew Homann LexThink LLC
    2. 2. LexThink .com innovation: for lawyers
    3. 3. Shiny shiny syndrome.
    4. 4. If you had to change everything about CLE, where would you start?
    5. 5. Please don’t throw things!
    6. 6. The practice of law depends upon precedents. The education of lawyers does not.
    7. 7. Just because everyone else is doing it doesn’t make it right.
    8. 8. Don’t be chicken.
    9. 9. The things that change fastest aren’t always the ones we expect.
    10. 10. How many of your audience members still come in a fedora?
    11. 11. Your audience has less attention to pay than ever before.
    12. 12. Remote audiences aren’t really there.
    13. 13. Use of information no longer depends upon knowledge.
    14. 14. FREE MCLE CREDITS
    15. 15. Proximity to information is now: irrelevant.
    16. 16. True innovation requires more than using different tools to do the same thing.
    17. 17. True innovation requires more than charging a different way for the same thing.
    18. 18. People complain loudest about the prices of things they don’t want to buy. © Matthew Homann 2010 All Rights Reserved
    19. 19. The cost your attendees care most about is their time.
    20. 20. Your attendees compare the service they receive from you to everybody.
    21. 21. So where do we go now?
    22. 22. One size doesn’t have to fit all.
    23. 23. Slay the sacred cows.
    24. 24. Know that small bites are better.
    25. 25. Jenny, I got your number, I’m going to make you mine. Jenny, don’t change your number: ____ ____ ____ - ____ ____ ____ ____
    26. 26. Survey better.
    27. 27. “If I’d asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” -- Henry Ford
    28. 28. Listen better to your attendees.
    29. 29. Use Better Speakers
    30. 30. Give speakers a grade.
    31. 31. And share those grades with others.
    32. 32. Nurture new presenters.
    33. 33. Make real time for questions and answers.
    34. 34. Never underestimate your audience’s tolerance for novelty.
    35. 35. Joe Attendee ------ Name ------ Photo Rethink DC 12 Lit ------ Town, Years in Practice, Specialty the Name Tag. I help companies avoid ------ Seven Word Bio big litigation headaches. Joe@MyLawFirm.com ------ Email 314 266 9635 ------ Cell Phone 15 | 24 | 4 | 7 ------ Table Assignments
    36. 36. “Un” it
    37. 37. [ white space ]
    38. 38. Being plugged in isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
    39. 39. People working together learn better.
    40. 40. Games aren’t just for kids.
    41. 41. People network better when they’re thinking together than when they’re drinking together.
    42. 42. Plan to miss occasionally.
    43. 43. Turn the lens on ourselves.
    44. 44. Rethink the hour.
    45. 45. Six minute presentations.
    46. 46. Matthew Homann is the founder of LexThink and the author of the [non]billable hour blog. You can reach him at Matt @ LexThink.com or follow him on Twitter @MattHomann.

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