An Interview With Lee Goodman of MentorCLE

MentorCLE A new CLE provider for Illinois has recently hit the internet: MentorCLE. MentorCLE has a unique approach in that, they allow you to view the CLE presentation before you pay for it. If you wish to obtain CLE credit for it, you then pay MentorCLE a fee ($19.95 per credit hour) for the course. If you don’t want or need the CLE credit, then you need not pay them anything.

I recently conducted an email interview with Lee Goodman, the guy behind MentorCLE. I think he has put together a really interesting idea with MentorCLE and I am curious to see how things work out. I encourage you to check out their site and their CLE offerings, especially if your deadline is fast approaching.

What is MentorCLE and how does it work? provides Illinois MCLE Board approved continuing legal education courses as online streaming videos. Lawyers can watch the courses for free. If they want MCLE credit, they pay $19.95 per credit hour. Attorneys can buy as many or as few of their required 20 hours of credit as they want (including professionalism/ethics courses), without having to buy a subscription. An official certificate of completion is emailed automatically when an attorney registers and pays for a course by credit card.

Aren’t you afraid of giving your information away for free?

Not at all. I love that we are able to let people watch our courses for free. I enthusiastically support the Internet ethic of voluntarily sharing programs and information, and I believe there should be as few barriers to education as possible. If a lawyer wants to learn how to be a better lawyer, I’m glad to help. We happen to be at a point where access to high-speed Internet is so pervasive, and technology is so inexpensive and reliable, that we can do this. It wouldn’t have been possible just a couple of years ago.

How do you find your instructors?

I’ve been an attorney in this state for nearly thirty years, so I know a lot of good lawyers. The challenge is to find experts in their fields who are also good on camera, and so far we have succeeded. Of course, we are always looking for new instructors, so there is a form on our website where people can tell us what courses they want to view and suggest themselves or someone else to present the courses.

We use an interview format for most of our courses, which makes it a lot easier on the presenters. They don’t have to memorize an hour-long presentation and they don’t have to be skilled teleprompter readers. The format is also a lot more interesting for people who view the courses than what most other online providers do, which is to point a camera at someone who is at a lectern and let the tape run for an hour. That’s a format that is almost impossible to watch on a computer screen without falling asleep.

Are you accredited as a CLE provider in any other state? Are you considering expanding to become accredited in other states?

We are concentrating on Illinois lawyers for now. Some topics that are exclusively federal law can be useful across state lines, but a lot of what most lawyers really want and need to know is state-specific, or has to take into account state and local conditions. All of our courses are presented by Illinois instructors. This is one of the advantages we have over some out-of-state online providers that are trying to peddle courses that were produced in places like New York or California.

At some point in the future we may move into other markets, but only when we have courses that will be useful to lawyers in those other states.

How long have you been operating?

We went live in January, 2008. The first deadline for Illinois lawyers to get their MCLE credits is June 30, 2008, for lawyers whose names begin with A through M. N through Z lawyers have until June 30, 2009 to get their credits. We will be adding more courses each year.

What has been the response thus far?

We have been getting feedback, and it is universally positive. People tell us they like our low price, and they like the convenience of getting their courses on the Internet. They tell us our website is very easy to use, and they like the interview format. Almost everyone who buys one course from use comes back and buys more courses, which tells us they are satisfied with our service. And people are already telling their friends about us.

We had to make a lot of decisions as we put MentorCLE together. Because Illinois lawyers have never had to take CLE courses before, we weren’t sure whether what we came up with would be well received. So far it looks like we did it right. Of course, I’ve been putting CLE courses together for bar associations for years, so it wasn’t all guesswork. I had a pretty good idea of what lawyers wanted.

Have you thought about releasing some of your presentations as podcasts that people can listen to while driving, exercising, etc. without having to watch them?

We may add podcasts, but so far we haven’t had much demand for them. Almost all lawyers have computers, but very few use portable video-capable devices. And download times for videos to get them onto portable devices are still pretty long. If we find in the future that more lawyers are asking for this, we’ll probably add it. The same goes for audio-programming.

We have worked very hard to provide our courses in a way that is easy and convenient for lawyers to access, but we start with the fact that most lawyers are only familiar with live, in-person seminars. So we are trying to introduce online CLE in a way that will be accepted. What we know from the experience of other states, and other professions, is that online courses will very quickly become the most popular way to get CLE. We are excited to be among the first, and most innovative, providers, and we intend to keep providing courses in formats that lawyers want.