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Ah, the professional convention. To some lawyers, they're a great way to network while catching up on the latest professional developments. To others, they're a short purgatory of endless meetings, roundtables and presentations.

Even if you're a conference-hater, these gatherings shouldn't be ignored. Conferences, conventions and other convocations of skilled professionals can be important sources of new information, new strategies, and even new clients.

I'm not sure about the rest of you, but in California, we're required to take 25 hours of continuing legal education (CLE) every three years. It seems like a long time, right? And yet, invariably, you approach two and a half years only to realize you've done none of the required hours.

This isn't a problem for everyone. Lawyers at BigLaw firms get free CLEs, usually at lunch, so they're getting hours on the regular. But solos and small firms don't have that luxury. What's a person to do about CLEs? Where do you find them? Sure, you could go to a $300 conference -- or not. How can you get CLE credits cheaply?

It's common to get summeritis, you know, when all you do is stare out of your window and wish you were on the beach? Well, you can actually go to the beach and get work done -- sort of. If you don't mind doing light reading, or watching a video on the beach, summer is the perfect time to catch up on CLE courses.

Just in time for summer, the American Bar Association has unveiled the ABA TECHSHOW Summer Series. Consisting of four webinars, the courses highlight information "from some of the best ABA TECHSHOW 2014 presentations" -- which is great if you were not able to make it out to Chicago this past March.

For more information on the courses and how to register, keep reading.

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Holder's Justice Reforms Realize Kennedy Commission's Vision

"The work of the Kennedy Commission that began 10 years ago is today an ongoing mission for the Criminal Justice Section and the ABA," American Bar Association President Lauren Bellows remarked on Saturday, while introducing Justice Anthony Kennedy. "That report has become a blueprint for the ABA's criminal justice agenda."

It may also have been a blueprint for Monday's announced initiative and changes in policies by Attorney General Eric Holder on behalf of the Obama administration.

Live Blog: Holder Speaks on Mandatory Minimums for Drug Offenders

Update 10 -- Final Update (10:55 a.m. PT): Attorney Gen. Eric Holder's speech to the ABA in sum: With budget cuts and an overpopulated, overburdened penal system, we can no longer afford to maintian the status quo.

Holder said the Obama administration will be exploring alternatives to incarceration to reform and curb mandatory minimum sentences. Those sentences often result in unfair penalties for nonviolent drug-related offenders, along with disparate sentences for minority offenders, Holder said.

Among the reforms mentioned:

Can't Make the ABA Annual Meeting? FindLaw's Got Coverage

Networking and Eric Holder, or billable hours and court hearings? Hilary Clinton and Justice Anthony Kennedy, or filing a temporary restraining order to protect your client from his violent spouse? Or maybe you just can't afford the airfare, hotel, and the cost of admission.

You've got your priorities set correctly, but that doesn't mean you'll have to miss out on the American Bar Association's Annual Meeting completely. Even if you can't attend in person, you can still take part in the festivities remotely, via, as we'll be covering the major events via blogs and social media.

The American Bar Association’s 2013 Annual Meeting is just a few weeks away — are you coming to San Francisco? You’ll find over 200 CLE programs, the world’s largest legal EXPO, and of course a chance to network with lawyers and judges.

What’s that you say? You’d rather stay home under the covers than go to another (dreaded) networking event? We have talked about networking before on our blogs, but now might be a very good time to dust off a few more ideas. So, here are five easy networking tips for lawyers that work, because yes, we’ve been there, done that.

In 2011, the State Bar of California began taking an aggressive approach to auditing lawyers for MCLE compliance. In 2012, 5% of lawyers, about 3,000 to 4,000, were audited and in 2013 10% will be audited -- between 7,000 and 8,000 lawyers.

You may, or may not, be in California, but regardless of where you live, if you are an attorney, you have MCLE responsibilities you must maintain in order to remain in practice.

The best way to survive and maybe even avoid an MCLE audit, of course, is to be in compliance with your requirements. Here are five tips which will help you get and stay compliant and might keep you out of the Bar's sights.

3 Reasons to Attend to Legal Conferences

You know that saying that 50 percent of life is just showing up? Well that rings particularly true at legal conferences.

Showing up to breakout panels, general sessions, and even cocktail hours is part of the conference game. Sure, you may be tempted to skip sessions that don't count for CLE credit, but you would actually be doing yourself a disservice. Here are three reasons to attend legal conferences.

How to Become a CLE Speaker Who Gets Invited Back

A great way to network and get your name out among your peers is to become a CLE speaker. But let's face it, not all CLE speakers are spectacular. How can you make sure you'll be invited back?

First, of course, you have to get selected to be a CLE speaker in the first place. There are several ways to do this, such as contacting the CLE organization with a brief biography and a description of your practice area. You can also select topics to talk about that are current and won't bore your potential audience.

However, the focus here is becoming such a great CLE speaker that you'll be called upon to return again and again. Here are some tips from the website Legal Productivity: