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IBA: Section CLE Pilot Program Launched for 2013

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Times are changing in the world of mandatory continuing legal education (CLE). At one time, few providers for continuing legal education existed in the state. Now, a simple Google search for continuing legal education in Indianapolis nets more than 80,000 results.

At the same time, membership dues invoices for associations across the board are increasingly being scrutinized, and the ability to articulate clear member benefits plays a more important role than ever in attracting and retaining members. IndyBar leadership takes the responsibility of communicating a clear value proposition to members seriously and is committed to a constant self-evaluation of the bar’s delivery of benefits and services to members.

Though the IndyBar’s membership remains robust, increasing year after year, and attendance at CLE programming is steady, consideration of these factors recently propelled bar leadership into a discussion on how the bar can continue to deliver unparalleled value to Indianapolis practitioners. Out of this discussion came a pilot program to test the waters of bundling section membership and continuing legal education.

The pilot program, which will be tested in 2013 with four IndyBar sections—the Appellate Practice Section, the Family Law Section, the Government Practice Section and the Real Estate and Land Use Section, will call for a small increase in section dues, which will in turn allow section members to attend all one-hour brownbag programming presented by the section at no cost. The participating sections have committed to presenting a minimum of four one-hour programs in 2013.

Through this pilot program, the IndyBar hopes to help members:

Save money. While section dues will increase by a small amount, members of participating sections will see savings of at least $100 per year versus paying per credit hour for each section program.

Save time. No more pulling out a credit card to pay for individual programs or submitting individual invoices for payment.

Invest their money in what matters. Members can pay one lump sum for their section affiliation, providing identity for their practice area and CLE that is meaningful and relevant.

“This is an effort aimed at enhancing member value, providing more reasons to attend the IndyBar’s popular one-hour CLEs, and increasing the flow of substantive legal information through our sections,” says IndyBar President Scott Chinn. “It is also part of the IndyBar’s multi-phase communications plan to diversify the ways we communicate substantive information to our members.”

By bundling CLE programs with section membership, section leadership will also be empowered to take an active role in achieving section member engagement and involvement. Rather than viewing planning and presentation of CLE programming as an expected function, section leadership will be asked to consider how their programming is serving their members, in addition to considering additional member benefits that could arise out of CLE programming, like resources or articles that relate to a seminar topic.

“Over the past several years, our section has generally made it a point to present six one-hour CLEs on an annual basis. Since one hour CLE is one of the focuses of the pilot project, we thought it was a great way to incorporate what we were already doing with our continued effort to provide more value to our section members,” says Eric Engebretson, current chair of the IndyBar Family Law Section. “We believe that the low cost CLE offered via the pilot program, coupled with the various other events we offer for free to our members throughout the year, make membership in the Family Law Section a great value and benefit to our members.”

Bar leadership recognizes that this change brings with it numerous challenges and opportunities, which resulted in the decision to test the program with just a small portion of the bar in the upcoming year. The results of the pilot program will be closely monitored throughout the year, and careful consideration will be given at the conclusion of the pilot program to determine whether it will be expanded to all IndyBar sections in subsequent years.•

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