Stop Giving Away Your Knowledge

Stop Giving Away Your Knowledge to Paralegal CLE Providers

Have you ever attended a paralegal CLE program and wondered whether you might like to teach a course and share your knowledge?  It can be so rewarding to put together a presentation that you know will help others gain some new paralegal CLEinsight, tools, or resources.  However, before you give away your time and knowledge for free, take the time to consider what you’re giving away and who’s really benefitting from it.

The Motivating Phone Call

I recently received a phone call from a big goliath paralegal CLE company wondering if I wanted to teach a litigation webinar for them.  I assumed maybe the guy just didn’t know who he was talking to, so  I asked if he knew that I owned a company called The Paralegal Boot Camp.  He confirmed that he knew.  So, I played along.  The phone call went something like this (I’ll call him George):

Me:  Well, George. I’m just curious, what do you usually pay your speakers for a 90-minute webinar?

George:  Nothing.  People like to teach for us for recognition and exposure.

Me:  Interesting.  I’m just curious, what are you charging the public for the webinar?

George:  $199 per person.

Me:  So…what you’re saying is…I put in all the time and effort in preparing for this webinar, then the 90 minutes teaching the webinar to share my skills, and YOU keep ALL the money that comes in from that? Including ALL of the on-demand sales after the live webinar?

George:  Yes.  But you can put it on your resume.

Me:  But I’m not looking for a job.  I own a company.  Remember, a company that provides paralegal CLE?

[Awkward silence]

George:  So, it sounds like you’re not interested?

Me:  That’s correct.

When You Should Pass on Your Knowledge For Free

I should clarify that there are a few limited types of paralegal CLE in which you should give your time to pass along your knowledge to others in the profession.

  1. Presenting for your local or national paralegal association. They are non-profits that charge a minimal fee to attend, and those fees are then used to help support their members and the paralegal profession.
  2. Mentoring a junior paralegal. When you help a new paralegal succeed in the profession, the entire paralegal profession benefits.
  3. In situations where the attendees are not paying to attend the training (i.e. in your firm, at a local paralegal college event).

In other words, you should have the mindset that if they’re getting paid, you should be getting paid something or just don’t give your time. Our time is too valuable.  And when I refer to getting paid something, I’m not referring to an “honorarium fee” that the CLE vendors used to pay back when I was a paralegal.  It was typically $50 – $100.  That sounded great at the time – if they only had 1 person paying that $199 attendance fee.  This is really a moot point because from what I understand, they don’t even offer that honorarium fee anymore.

Typically, that vendor’s revenue might look something like this:

$199  x 20 registrations = $3,980  +

$199 x 10 on-demand = $1,990 = $5,970 revenue for the CLE provider.

In their defense, there are expenses involved in marketing, advertising, equipment, and several other things that it takes to host and sell online courses.  But that doesn’t mean you should speak for free so that they can keep all of it.

We all know that in order to put together that presentation, you’re either going to have to do it on the employer’s clock or you are giving up your nights and at least one weekend.  That is not fair to anyone, especially when the only one that whole equation who is benefitting financially is the entity that’s receiving $199 (or more!) per registration.

paralegal CLE providers should pay youInstead, what if the CLE provider makes some money, but the speakers who are doing all of the work also make some?  That same webinar might look like this:

$3,980 + $1,990 = $5,970 total sales first 90 days.

40% Speaker’s Share = $2,388

60% Provider’s Share = $3,582

That extra passive income from one course could be enough for a vacation next year, or make up for a low bonus, or give you a cushion in your checking account.

About the Author

Paralegal BlogAnn Pearson is the Founder of the Paralegal Boot Camp, specializing in training for paralegals that focuses on the important paralegal skills not taught in certificate programs. 

Ann started her paralegal career as a litigation paralegal and then was a manager of paralegals for many years prior to starting her own company in 2010.  When she’s not working, you can usually find her somewhere near an ocean – either scuba diving, boating, cleaning up a beach, or volunteering to help save sea turtles.

  Connect with Ann on LinkedIn.

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