Free CLEs are regularly offered, but not always easy to find. When I clerked for a judge, it became my mini-mission to obtain all of my CLE credits for as little cost as possible. Here are some of my favorites and other less known options:
The Holloran Center for Ethical Leadership in the Professions. The Center’s conferences and seminars are aimed at all professionals, not just lawyers, and have free CLE credits. St. Thomas has other free CLEs throughout the year that are open to the public.
The Minnesota Attorney General’s Office hosts a monthly CLE from September through May and always includes an elimination of bias and ethics CLE during the year. There is a low-cost fee for an all-day June CLE and the live ethics CLE. The CLEs are intended for public lawyers. To get on the e-mailing list, contact Donna at [email protected]. (Hint for downtown Minneapolis lawyers: you can take the route 94 bus from 6th Street directly to the AG building where the CLEs are held; the bus then picks you up right outside the door).
The “Uncle Sam Worked Here” lecture series at the Landmark Center. The CLEs are completed for this year, but get on the e-mailing list for future lectures.
The University of Minnesota hosts a lecture series where most of the CLEs are free and open to the public. The law reviews also host free symposiums.
William Mitchell occasionally offers free CLEs, but to find them, you have to start the registration process to attend a specific CLE. Some semesters, WMCL has offered free CLEs through auditing a course. I earned 18 credits doing this one semester (and did not have to do any of the homework).
I did not find free CLEs advertised at Hamline, but they offer a discount to alumni.
The MSBA, FBA, MWL, the MHBA and other bar associations always offer free CLEs. The best way to stay connected is to sign up for e-mails or check the websites. The HCBA and the 4th Judicial District host the “Candid Conversations” CLEs that are free to all judicial/law clerks and only $10 for the public.
Legal vendors often host free CLEs; check with Minnesota Lawyers Mutual, Woodlake Medical, Westlaw, Lexis Nexus and other providers.
Many County Law Libraries consistently have CLEs. For example, the Dakota County Law Library and the 1st Judicial District Bar Association offer monthly CLE sessions in Apple Valley and Hastings. Washington County and the WCBA also host a monthly CLE. Carver County also puts on several CLEs each year. The Hennepin County Law Library hosts a monthly web training CLE (free to law library subscribers).
Checking the websites or joining an e-mail list of a legal aid society or pro bono organization such as VLN is a great resource to learn about free CLEs. You can also earn CLE credit for performing pro bono work.
There is also a blog, 4freeCLE, that attempts to find and advertise free CLEs.
This list is not exhaustive, but is a start. When you learn of a free CLE or you are organizing a free CLE, e-mail it, post it on Facebook, and get the word out. With so many lawyers unemployed, financially strained from their law school debt, or merely looking to save some money, free CLEs are one way to lighten the load.