Developing Your Skills During Downtime: 5 Professional Development Opportunities for Lawyers

lawyers at a professional development conference

Lawyers looking to make the most of downtime often have a long to-do list, from marketing their firm to developing relationships with existing clients. Today, we want to make the case for spending some of this time focused on professional development.

Embracing the Benefits of Lifelong Learning

Of course, lawyers are no strangers to lifelong learning. Laws and regulations are constantly in flux, and every lawyer invests time in staying current in their industry. But beyond your practice specialty, there are opportunities for learning and developing that can benefit your firm.

For example, 40 state bar associations have adopted a Duty of Technical Competence, which requires that attorneys be proficient in using technology, the business of law, health and wellness, and interpersonal skills. Proactively seeking out opportunities to learn about and use new technology in your practice can be helpful in demonstrating this competence.

Professional Development Tips for Lawyers

If you are a practicing lawyer experiencing a drop in billable hours right now, consider taking advantage of the following professional development opportunities that allow you to grow your skills while staying-at-home.

  • Newly digital conferences
    As a result of the pandemic, many conferences and meetups have been transformed into virtual events, which may make it easier to attend law conferences like those hosted by the American Bar Association or on Meetup. As an added benefit to these events, many allow you to virtually connect with other law professionals and grow your network.
  • Continuing legal education (CLE)
    Educational centers like West LegalEdcenter, Attorney Credits, and Practicing Law Institute offer qualified CLEs that count toward your state licensing requirements.
  • Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs)
    With an investment of only time and Internet access, you can access hundreds of free, top-tier courses through MOOCs like Coursera, edX, Udemy, LinkedIn Learning, and more. Low-cost paid programs are also available, and you can often take the same courses offered at Ivy-league colleges like Brown, Columbia, and Cornell.
  • Executive Coaching
    Lawyers often focus on growing the firm more than growing themselves, but that can limit your growth and the growth of your firm in the long run. Partnering with an independent executive coach or an American Bar Association coach can help you develop yourself as a leader and grow your business’s potential.

Embracing Lifelong Learning Long Past COVID-19

As Aristotle once said, “Learning is an ornament in prosperity, a refuge in adversity, and a provision in old age.”

As you navigate your long career as a lawyer, there will be both slow and busy periods. Knowing a busy period may be right around the corner, consider how you can use this time to advance your skills, knowledge, and service to your current and prospective clients.

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