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 an Adecco Staffing survey, 92% 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% 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.

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

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:

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.

Alison.com

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:

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.

Academic Earth

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:

edX

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:

Want to try something different? There are more than just legal topics on edX, so you can feel free to explore new areas of interest.

Coursera

Coursera offers a variety of free courses related to law and legal studies. While some courses offer free content, there are also many additional paid courses to access. By following the link provided here, you’ll see just how many free courses and resources there are available.

Coursera offers valuable free training opportunities for legal professionals through its diverse array of online courses. These courses cover a wide range of legal topics, from foundational concepts to specialized areas like international law or intellectual property.

For legal pros wanting to improve their skill set, access course materials, and engage with instructors and fellow learners at no cost, you really can’t go wrong with Coursera’s user-friendly platform.

Additionally, the organization collaborates with renowned universities, making it an accessible and reputable resource for legal education.

Whether seeking professional development, staying current with legal trends, or exploring new areas of expertise, Coursera is a great choice and starting point for any legal professional looking to upskill.

Harvard Online Courses

Harvard University offers free online courses on topics related to law and legal studies through its Harvard Online platform.

Harvard University offers a valuable resource for legal professionals with its free online courses.

These courses provide an opportunity to access world-class legal education without the need for traditional enrollment.

Covering a range of legal topics, from constitutional law to international human rights, these offerings cater to both beginners and experienced practitioners.

Because of Harvard’s prestigious reputation, high-quality content delivered by top faculty is naturally an extremely appealing aspect of using them for study.

The Online Courses program is part of Harvard’s commitment to accessible education and makes these resources an invaluable tool for career advancement and professional growth in the legal field.

MIT OpenCourseWare

Much like the above Harvard Online Courses program, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) provides free access to course materials from their law-related courses, which can be valuable for legal professionals.

MIT OpenCourseWare (OCW) offers a treasure trove of free resources for legal professionals seeking to broaden their knowledge base.

While MIT is renowned for its STEM programs, OCW also features a selection of courses and materials relevant to legal studies, including subjects like ethics, intellectual property, and technology law.

Legal professionals can access lecture notes, assignments, and even video lectures from MIT’s esteemed faculty.

This vast repository of knowledge can be instrumental in improving your understanding of an array of legal concepts, staying updated on emerging issues, and honing your analytical skills.

MIT OCW empowers legal professionals to engage with high-caliber educational content at their own pace, enriching their careers in the process.

The Pro Bono Training Institute

The Pro Bono Training Institute (PBTI) offers indispensable training courses for legal professionals committed to pro bono work and social justice.

These courses equip lawyers, paralegals, and law students with the specialized skills and knowledge required to effectively serve underserved communities.

Covering a spectrum of topics, from immigration law to family law and housing rights, these courses are designed to address real-world challenges faced by vulnerable populations.

With expert instructors and practical insights, the Pro Bono Training Institute enables legal professionals to make a meaningful impact, promoting equal access to justice.

By fostering a spirit of volunteerism and empowerment, these courses empower legal professionals to advocate for those in need and champion a more equitable society.

For California lawyers, self-study CLE credit is available upon the completion of PBTI training modules.

American Bar Association (ABA)

We’re a little bit hesitant to include this one because you will need an ABA membership to access their resources, but the amount of material available to lawyers from the ABA is so great that it’s worth mentioning.

The American Bar Association (ABA) is a prominent source of professional development for legal experts, offering a plethora of webinars and training programs.

These sessions cover diverse legal domains, from ethics and litigation strategies to cutting-edge legal tech trends.

The ABA’s webinars facilitate knowledge exchange among attorneys, providing insights into evolving regulations and best practices.

Whether it’s enhancing legal skills or staying updated on industry shifts, ABA webinars and training are indispensable resources.

They not only promote professional growth but also uphold ethical standards and foster a vibrant legal community.

Legal professionals can rely on the ABA for high-quality, accessible education and networking opportunities.

The ABA’s CLE Marketplace offers training in the following areas:

The Center for Computer-Assisted Legal Instruction (CALI)

The Center for Computer-Assisted Legal Instruction (CALI) is a vital resource for legal professionals and law students seeking specialized training. To access CALI Lessons, you must be affiliated with CALI member organizations or have an individual membership. You can find the member organizations here.

CALI’s extensive library offers a wide range of interactive online tutorials and lessons that cover various legal topics, from contracts and torts to constitutional law.

These self-paced modules empower learners to deepen their understanding of complex legal concepts, making them invaluable for both novice and experienced legal practitioners.

CALI’s commitment to accessible and innovative legal education contributes significantly to the professional development of legal professionals.

There are lessons available in a variety of disciplines, including:

Your state bar association

Check your local or state bar association’s website for free training and resources specific to your jurisdiction. Many bar associations offer free webinars, publications, and practice resources.

Online legal writing courses

Legal writing courses are essential for legal professionals, honing their ability to communicate effectively within the legal realm.

These courses emphasize precision, clarity, and adherence to legal conventions in drafting documents, briefs, and contracts. Legal writing programs cover various formats, including persuasive writing, research memoranda, and appellate advocacy.

Clear and persuasive writing is crucial in the legal field, influencing the outcomes of cases and facilitating successful client representation.

There are several low-cost options for legal professionals looking to hone their skills through online legal writing courses, namely:

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.

We offer training and instruction on a variety of subjects, covering electronic and physical court filing, process serving, eService, best practices, and tips for working more efficiently.

We also regularly host training webinars that offer CLE credit. If you’d like to be kept updated with useful articles and announcements about these learning opportunities for our community, we recommend subscribing to our blog mailing list.

If you’re ready to learn, the cost can no longer be an excuse not to get started.

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