Saturday, December 31, 2011

Prediction for 2012: Free CLE Changes the Legal Education Landscape

Cross-posted from 4freeCLE - and representing one of my big projects for next year:

2011 was the year in which free, on-demand continuing legal education began to really take off, both as a business model for the sponsors and as a real choice for practitioners. I'll list a couple dozen below for the sake of those who need a few credits quick, but first let me make a few predictions:

Predictions for 2012:

  • There will always be a market for paid, premium CLE. Just as free books and images on the internet have not destroyed the market for books and art IRL, so too free CLE on the internet will not destroy the older market. It'll just change the, possibly shrink its overall dollar value but by increasing the need to prove value, it'll improve quality. And higher-quality items usually command a better mark-up.
  • In 2012, at least 1 percent of the market for CLE in general will be satisfied through free CLE, and most of that will be on-demand via the internet.
  • Although economic issues may encourage some lawyers to exit the profession, the overall demand for CLE will increase, as on-demand access makes it practical to use it as a resource for problem solving. For example, if an ethical issue involving the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act occurs to you while you're stuck at the airport with your cellphone; you can take a quick, short on-demand ethics CLE to help you now!
  • 4freeCLE is going to do a *lot* more in 2012 to radically improve free continuing legal education. If you have any special requests, contact us!
OK, enough predictions. Here's some links for those who have waited until now to earn credit. Let's have an educational 2012!

Intellectual Property Colloquium (IPC)

Most IPC recordings have been granted credit in CA, FL, IL, NE, NY, PA, TN, TX, WA



Black Duck Software

See also: "Why Free CLE? Because it’s a commodity and because “interesting CLE” is oxymoronic"  by The Irreverent Lawyer

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Cat Drinking Preferences

"I don't like it when it's on tap"
We have three cats. We figure that so long as we have no more cats than humans, we aren't crazy cat people. It's important to set such a limit, because at heart, we just might be crazy cat people.
Cats are not intelligent the same way humans are, but they seem to have feelings and personality and preferences. Michelle (the largest, colored like a milk cow) likes to drink water from the sink. She'll come right up to you, stare at you until you follow her to the bathroom, and wait for you to turn the tap on.
Imp, on the other hand, either hasn't figure out the sink-drinking thing, or just doesn't care for it. Just now she carefully followed me to the bathroom and looked like she wanted the water turn on, just like Michelle. Then she looked the whole thing over carefully, as if pondering what it all meant, and then walked away. I know she knows it's water, but she is just not interested in that sort of drink.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Christmas Air Shark

Houston, We Have A Problem
It's been a busy holiday (?aren't they always?) but slowing down now. We had time for fun, in between running around, stocking books, decorating the house and what-all.
Christmas Eve we drove up to my sister Kat's for a gift exchange and huge amount of food; Christmas Day we drove to Kris' sister Susie's for a gift exchange and moderate amounts of food. See the difference?
Kris found for me a gift that I would never have gotten for myself but which we all enjoyed very much: an air shark. We assembled it right away; Jason was a very steady and necessary hand in this; it may be possible to assemble the shark single handed but the room had a very high ceiling and the first step in the directions was to inflate the unit. This put plenty of firm tension on the skin of the balloon on which to attach the hardware, but it meant it was untethered and unballasted much of the time.
Once assembled, it was a huge amount of fun. Propulsion is by a motor that moves the tail either left or right, as you direct; it gives you an appreciate of how fish may maneuver.
Once we got it home, I thought dangling a ribbon from it would give the cats something to play with but they seemed to elaborately ignore it. It may be that it is too large and slow to around their chase and play feelings. Well, we humans have enough of that to fill in for them.
Thanks Kris!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

10 Free CLE Opportunities!

Another Newsletter on free Continuing Legal Education....

4freeCLE: The Free CLE Newsletter!Dec 21, 2011
Recorded Online Credit
Most of these events are approved for credit in several jurisdictions, or eligible for credit via reciprocity. If your state is not listed, getting credit may be as simple as checking with your state bar association and, perhaps, filling out a form.
Free CLE Before Year End 

Live Online Credit
The menu is getting thin as the year winds down, but this one may be worth a try:

A Big Thank-You To ...
...all our providers of free Continuing Legal Education, especially Brown Winick - You are making a difference!
Would you like a free mention in this newsletter? You can earn the thanks of the community and a link to your website by being the first to  email the editor with news of a free CLE. This includes events that you or your organization may be putting on yourself.
Happy Holidays - let's give ourselves the gift of education!

For Email Marketing you can trust

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Kris' Awesome Tomato Soup

What A Tomato!
Kris wins this week's soup-off at Big Al's, using home-canned tomatos + fresh basil. The competition was tough with six awesome entries, but in the end, the Free Beer was hers!
The full story: Big Al's is a little brewery a few blocks from here that includes a family-friendly tap room. One Sunday, the bartender brought in a crockpot of soup to share, which was much appreciated, but one of the customers uttered the fatal words, "Ok, this is good, but I can make better."
The Throw-Down Was On!
Next week, they both brought in their best, and so did another customer. Now, every Sunday, a bunch of us brings in soup, based on the ingredient randomly selected the week before. Everyone samples anonymously and votes; winner gets a beer and bragging rights.
Here's Kris' winning entry:

  • Saute some scallions or green onions, and a cup of diced parsnip in some butter.
  • Add water and cover, steaming the mix until the parsnips are soft.
  • Add a jar of home-grown tomatoes, a box of tomato stock, and enough water to give you the right consistency.
  • Add some chopped-up fresh tomatoes (this time it was grape tomatoes, but use whatever's good right now) and bring it all up to serving temperature.
  • Shortly before serving, throw in some fresh basel, which should be chopped up until it is like tea leaves; you want the basel to steep in the soup, releasing its flavor while softening into edibility.
  • That's it. Enjoy!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Thinking about Mark Pagel and Infinite Stupidity

Innovations in
Fitness Equipment
A really smart guy is Mark Pagel ...
"... a Fellow of the Royal Society and Professor of Evolutionary Biology; Head of the Evolution Laboratory at the University of Reading; Author Oxford Encyclopaedia of Evolution; co-author of The Comparative Method in Evolutionary Biology."
... and he just wrote a great article entitled Infinite Stupidity over on Edge, where the smartest people go to talk smartly. His basic thesis is that there may be evolutionary factors reducing our general intelligence, because as our effective groups increase in number, the fraction of us who need to be genuinely creative decreases.

But rather than have me paraphrase his article badly, go read it. I'll wait.

So what do you think? I came across this article courtesy of David Brin's "Contrary Brin" blog, and Dr. Brin dissects some of the historical data Page uses to come to a very different conclusion. You should go read that too - it's fun!

But me?  I think Pagel's discussion goes astray where he asks, "Do we need more innovators in a larger social group?"

This question uses "need" to cover a really complex social construct. To look at cases: a stable tribe in a stable environment may flourish with zero innovation; a tribe in an unstable environment may flourish only if it has a lot of innovation; in this sense the concept of "need" may have a simple meaning, but the answer to the question is different in either case. A small tribe that impacts its environment very little may "need" very little innovation to flourish, whereas a large tribe that alters its environment grossly, and/or comes into conflict with other tribes, may "need" much more innovation merely to survive.

And it's still not entirely clear what "need" means; if it's something like economic demand for innovation, then we see at once that half the analysis is missing: the concept of "supply". Even if the Demand (or "need") for innovation were to drop as tribesize increases, the supply may increase, and therefore the amount of innovation produced, if the cost of the factors of production fall.

One of the cool things about civilization is that it cuts the cost of innovation; if you spend a week crafting a new type of spear that fails utterly, the penalty is no longer starvation. (This doesn't mean that innovations can't be extremely expensive for society, but the individuals innovating on the project can lead comfortable lives while doing so, even if their innovations fail, e.g. lots of people drew paychecks from the Apple Newton.) Since 1789, we even have bankruptcy in part to encourage such risktaking!

In addition, the utility of small innovations or partial innovations increases as pool of people to share it with grows. Let us say that I have an idea for chipping a better spearpoint but it has a design flaw at the joining with the haft; today my design partner in Sweden can now spot that flaw and fix it.

Pagel offers Facebook as an example of a decreasing ratio of creativity-to-participants, but I'm not sure the data bears him out. It's true much of the internet is copyed, e.g. we all share humor and music. Because the rewards of crafting really good humor is greater than pre-internet, there is a vast competition to produce more and better stuff to share. Remember when your options for humor were three channels of sitcoms? When your music came from whoever paid the DJs for rotation time? There is undoubtedly more and better visual and musical art being created today than ever before!

Look at boardgames. I was a 60s kid and there were maybe a couple dozen board games, and very few in the strategy realm. Avalon Hill produced a couple title in a year.
Today, thanks to cheap printing, internet sales, and Kickstarter, we are in a golden age of board game design. There are probably more board games/card games coming out every year than existed in my childhood (you have 1 day to join the Schlock Mercenary game project!)

The game environment in particular may address the concern expressed by
@Twisted Scottish Bastard
"... a financial/reward structure available for them, to let them create their ideas in the real as opposed to the virtual."

Microfinancing is working for creative projects. You no longer have to sell your comics to Marvel/DC, your games to Avalon Hill, your shoe designs to (uhm, sorry, I don't know if anyone would take them!) to get them into the hands of consumers, who will reward you or punish you.

I am not accustomed to being an optimist, and I'm certainly far from as smart as Pagel, but the future is bright.
Today's email from Michael Moore says so much that makes sense that I'm just gonna reprint it ... you should read it in full:

A Man in Tunisia, a Movement on Wall Street, and the Soldier Who Ignited the Fuse ...a letter from Michael Moore

Saturday, December 17th, 2011
It's Saturday night and I didn't want the day to end before I sent out this note to you.
One year ago today (December 17th), Mohamed Bouazizi, a man who had a simple produce stand in Tunisia, set himself on fire to protest his government's repression. His singular sacrifice ignited a revolution that toppled Tunisia's dictator and launched revolts in regimes across the Middle East.
Three months ago today, Occupy Wall Street began with a takeover of New York's Zuccotti Park. This movement against the greed of corporate America and its banks -- and the money that now controls most of our democratic institutions -- has quickly spread to hundreds of towns and cities across America. The majority of Americans now agree that a nation where 400 billionaires have more wealth than 160 million Americans combined is not the country they want America to be. The 99% are rising up against the 1% -- and now there is no turning back.
Twenty-four years ago today, U.S. Army Spc. Bradley Manning was born. He has now spent 570 days in a military prison without a trial -- simply because he allegedly blew the whistle on the illegal and immoral war in Iraq. He exposed what the Pentagon and the Bush administration did in creating this evil and he did so by allegedly leaking documents and footage to Wikileaks. Many of these documents dealt not only with Iraq but with how we prop up dictators around the world and how our corporations exploit the poor on this planet. (There were even cables with crazy stuff on them, like one detailing Bush's State Department trying to stop a government minister in another country from holding a screening of 'Fahrenheit 9/11.')
The Wikileaks trove was a fascinating look into how the United States conducts its business -- and clearly those who don't want the world to know how we do things in places like, say, Tunisia, were not happy with Bradley Manning.
Mohamed Bouazizi was being treated poorly by government officials because all he wanted to do was set up a cart and sell fruit and vegetables on the street. But local police kept harassing him and trying to stop him. He, like most Tunisians, knew how corrupt their government was. But when Wikileaks published cables from the U.S. ambassador in Tunis confirming the corruption -- cables that were published just a week or so before Mohamed set himself on fire -- well, that was it for the Tunisian people, and all hell broke loose.
People across the world devoured the information Bradley Manning revealed, and it was used by movements in Egypt, Spain, and eventually Occupy Wall Street to bolster what we already thought was true. Except here were the goods -- the evidence that was needed to prove it all true. And then a democracy movement spread around the globe so fast and so deep -- and in just a year's time! When anyone asks me, "Who started Occupy Wall Street?" sometimes I say "Goldman Sachs" or "Chase" but mostly I just say, "Bradley Manning." It was his courageous action that was the tipping point -- and it was not surprising when the dictator of Tunisia censored all news of the Wikileaks documents Manning had allegedly supplied. But the internet took Manning's gift and spread it throughout Tunisia, a young man set himself on fire and the Arab Spring that led eventually to Zuccotti Park has a young, gay soldier in the United States Army to thank.
And that is why I want to honor Bradley Manning on this, his 24th birthday, and ask the millions of you reading this to join with me in demanding his immediate release. He does not deserve the un-American treatment, including cruel solitary confinement, he's received in over eighteen months of imprisonment. If anything, this young man deserves a friggin' medal. He did what great Americans have always done -- he took a bold stand against injustice and he did it without stopping for a minute to consider the consequences for himself.
The Pentagon and the national security apparatus are hell-bent on setting an example with Bradley Manning. But we as Americans have a right to know what is being done in our name and with our tax dollars. If the government tries to cover up its malfeasance, then it is the duty of each and every one of us, should the situation arise, to drag the truth, kicking and screaming if necessary, into the light of day.
The American flag was lowered in Iraq this past Thursday as our war on them officially came to an end. If anyone should be on trial or in the brig right now, it should be those men who lied to the nation in order to start this war -- and in doing so sent nearly 4,500 Americans and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis to their deaths.
But it is not Bush or Rumsfeld or Cheney or Wolfowitz who sit in prison tonight. It is the hero who exposed them. It is Bradley Manning who has lost his freedom and that, in turn, becomes just one more crime being committed in our name.
I know, I know, c'mon Mike -- it's the holiday season, there's presents to buy and parties to go to! And yes, this really is one of my favorite weeks of the year. But in the spirit of the man whose birth will be celebrated next Sunday, please do something, anything, to help this young man who spends his birthday tonight behind bars. I say, enough. Let him go home and spend Christmas with his family. We've done enough violence to the world this decade while claiming to be a country that admires the Prince of Peace. The war is over. And a whole new movement has a lot to thank Bradley Manning for.

Michael Moore
There are people who don't like Michael Moore because he's kinda lumpy looking; he doesn't wear a nice suit, he doesn't have Mitt Romney hair and he doesn't stare into a camera and tell you that you should be afraid of dark-skinned people from other countries. Those things are important if you like being fooled by the people who profit from fooling you.
But if you're one of those people who don't like being fooled, Moore is the man to watch; he is quite simply the most effective non-fiction filmmaker of our time, and he tells truths that people don't want to hear.

Another Issue of the free CLE Newsletter ...

... on the plus side, my free CLE Newsletter has something like 100 subscribers ( addition to over 700 Twitter followers, who get the material 140 characters at a time).
On the minus side, the 1st item in the latest issue has now posted that it is full up. I don't know that I can take credit for that, but  I may have done my part. Anyway, FWIW, here's the current issue:

4freeCLEDec 15, 2011

Free CLE Before Year End 

Live Online Credit
If you need a few more credits before the end of the year, try some free online programs! Most of these events are approved for credit in a number of jurisdictions. If yours is not listed, contact your state bar to see if you can apply for credit; it may be as simple as filling out a form!
Recorded Online Credit
The subject matter of most of these programs are not state-specific, so getting credit may be as simple as viewing the program and filling out a form with your state bar association.
Live Credit
Live events are excellent opportunities to network with like-minded professionals, while earning valuable credit. Unless otherwise noted, events are free and open to the public, and provide credit in the state in which they occur. 
A Big Thank-You To ...
Again  Richard Clem, of Clem Continuing Legal Education, wins the weekly "Thank You!" for alerting me to the Iowa program above! Be sure to check out his "Need CLE Credits Before December 31? Don't Panic!".
You too, like Richard, will earn the thanks of the community and a link to your website by being the first to email the editor with news of a free CLE. This includes events that you or your organization may be putting on yourself! 

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Backing the Schlock Mercenary Game

Yeah, I backed this thing. I have a scurvy plan to make this not only fun but a force multiplier for some other projects. It helps that the antagonists in this game are the Partnership Collective, the galaxy's most disliked lawyers:

Sunday, December 11, 2011

On Being A Guinea Pig

We Also Serve Who Only
Lie Down And Donate!
Why fight orcs online?
You may bring Alzeihmer's down
Wielding placebo!

We aren't all Einsteins;
The easy way to do science:
Human guinea pig!

Feeling unwanted?
Google "Healthy Volunteer"
Now you're popular!

The Ph.ds wait;
Their Nobel Prize depends on
Your humble fluids.

Retained Forever,
My Great Future Monument:
Small Prostate Sample.

Blindness, Cancer, AIDS;
Humble roles in their defeat -
What greater glory?

We also serve who
(Nameless, fameless and happy)
Only stand and donate.
For maybe a decade I've participated as a healthy volunteer for one or more science projects a year. They've been fun, on the whole; I don't have the head for science but I love making my contribution. I've had my vision tested, the bones in my head MRI'd, my sensitivity to pain tested while playing Iceworld. Currently I am taking either Simvastatin or a placebo in a test of the way proteins in my bodily fluids change over time, a finding which it is hoped will be one footstep in the journey of a thousand miles to defeat Alzheimer's.
I highly recommend everyone who can participate in projects such as these. Most of mine have been through the University of Washington's Health Volunteer page. We can't all be geniuses, but we can all make our contribution; without us, medical science stops and then where would we be?

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Easy Charitable Works Via The #Progressive Slate

One easy way to do charity is to help worthy charitable causes win online contests. There's a zillion of them, and I don't doubt some are scams, but the Pepsi Refresh Challenge is one I've noticed is actually for reals - it really does award the money, so I don't have any hesitation urging you to do the following for each day this month (December 2011).

Log into your Facebook profile, then come back to this email and click on each of the five links below.
You can cast 5 more votes using text messages. The numbers next to each group are the codes you can use to send in a text message vote. Simply type in the number for the group you want to vote for and send it to Pepsi at 73774. You can vote up to five times a day using text messages!
The contest is over when December's over. To keep up on new ones, and to receive daily reminders to vote, see The Progressive Slate at

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

End-Of-Year #Ethics Roundup by 4freeCLE

Here's something from one of my more active web projects:
4freeCLE Presents:
End-Of-Year Ethics Roundup!

If you need to earn a few more ethics credits before the end of they year, try satisfying that need through free online programs!
Most of these events are approved for credit in a number of jurisdictions; if YOUR jurisdiction is not listed, contact your state bar to see if you can apply for credit anyway. It may be as simple as filling out a form, which represents an immense cost savings to you!

Recorded Ethics Credit
Recorded programs have the practical advantage that you can view them anytime you want, and re-view them as needed. Frankly, sometimes ethics matters are difficult and can benefit from a review: 

This is the only online ethics seminar I've discovered between now and the end of the year, but it looks great! If I find any more, I'll be sure to catalog them:
More Free CLE
You'll find a great many more free CLE events, both live and recorded, at

If you know of a free CLE event not listed, please send it to the editor so we may include it in the next issue. The first to tell us of an event gets credit for the announcement, a link to their website, and the thanks of grateful legal professionals everywhere!

Feel Free To Forward This To Colleagues Who May Want Free CLE. 
4freeCLE is, and always will be, free!

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This is a product of 4freeCLE, R E Winn, editor.
4freeCLE is a fun project, and I'm developing some specialized expertise in this area. If you can use any of the information above: enjoy!