Legal professionals spend a lot of time searching for classes and events that will give them needed CLE. And while this is important, just because those courses are accredited doesn’t mean that they will necessarily help you prepare for all the changes that are ahead.
Sometimes legal professionals want or need to learn, even when they don’t get official credit for it, or when there’s a larger goal in mind.
The skills gap
U.S. economists, demographers, and political leaders seem to agree on at least one thing: the next generation of workers won’t be prepared to fill the millions of new jobs that will be available across the country, and retiring baby boomers are making the problem worse.
According to a recent Adecco Staffing survey, 92 percent of the more than 500 executives surveyed think a severe skills gap exists in today’s American workforce. The executives polled said that U.S. workers aren’t as skilled as they would like, almost half think workers are missing important growth opportunities, and 44 percent said workers lack valuable soft skills like communication, creativity, critical thinking, and collaboration. Among those surveyed, 89 percent think that corporate training programs could help close the skills gap.
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Opportunities to learn
Ready to learn? Here are some places to find training for legal professionals that are free or at a low cost:
Study.com offers free online legal classes where students can learn law terminology and legal concepts—although not for college credit. One class, Business 103: Introductory Business includes 14 chapters on:
- Contract law basics, with information on the difference between unilateral, bilateral, expressed, implied, formal and informal contracts, and more.
- Property law, explaining trade secrets, patents, and other forms of intellectual property, along with real and personal property.
- Torts in business law, in which the elements of tort law are outlined, as well as personal injury terms including battery, trespass, negligence, and libel.
If you’re looking to transition into a new area of law or need to improve your knowledge of your current one, there are several courses here that could be a good place to start.
The free online classes offered at Alison.com are intended to provide those seeking a comprehensive understanding of business and legal systems with the knowledge they need to succeed in their career. Alison offers a free diploma in Business and Legal Studies, which covers:
- Corporate management
- Human resources
- Operation management
- The adversarial system
- Legal procedures
A diploma in Legal Studies gives students the opportunity to learn about the kinds of laws and how they originated. Other free offerings include courses on contracts, employment law, and copyright law, all of which could be great additions to a resume.
Digital Currency Council
If you want to learn more about the emerging Bitcoin technology and stay current with digital currency, the Digital Currency Council (DCC) offers free training for legal professionals in the basics of Bitcoin.
Information presented includes:
- Key regulatory issues involving digital currency.
- Best practices in the digital currency domain.
- Details about important court cases and enforcement actions related to Bitcoin.
DCC’s training allows legal professionals to take advantage of emerging opportunities in the digital currency industry by becoming a DCC certified professional.
The website Academic Earth offers free online lectures and law courses to prospective law students so that they can learn more about the legal industry. Students are able to enroll in open courses taught by faculty members from colleges and universities throughout the world. These courses include:
- Environmental Law and Policy, which gives perspectives on the basics of environmental law as well as information about natural resources, toxics and waste, air pollution control, water pollution, and environmental federalism.
- International Environmental Law, which covers the scope of international environmental law along with dispute settlement, compliance, bilateral disputes, groundwater, climate change, biodiversity, human rights, hazardous materials, as well as trade and the environment.
- Introduction to Copyright Law, which includes a basic introduction to legal research and legal citations, the 1976 Copyright Act, peer-to-peer file sharing, and software licensing.
With courses from high caliber universities from across the country, edX courses are often the very same courses taken at Harvard, MIT, UC Berkeley, and more. You can pay a small fee to earn university credit for these or audit the courses for free.
edX Law courses include:
- Intellectual Property Law and Policy
- International Human Rights Law
- International Investment Law
Want to try something different? There’s more than just legal topics on edX, so you can feel free to explore new areas of interest.
Bonus: One Legal
One Legal’s training team is staffed by experienced legal support professionals who want to give a helping hand to those trying to master a new technology. One Legal offers a variety of webinars covering the information you need to file and serve court documents electronically.
Our featured webinar, Introduction to One Legal: Overview, Tips, and Tricks, provides a 20-minute demonstration of the filing platform, and covers electronic and physical court filing, process serving, eService, best practices, and tips for working more efficiently.
If you’re ready to learn, the cost can no longer be an excuse not to get started.
Do you know of other resources for free or low-cost training for legal professionals? Tell us about them in the comments!