Estimated reading time: 2 minutes, 57 seconds

Humorist-at-Law Puts the ‘CLE’ in Clever

Eleven years ago, when Sean Carter was a 35-year-old attorney handling business matters in California, he hit a roadblock… a sort of midlife crisis. Carter fancied himself as the “next Bernie Mac,” a successful African-American comedian.

“On my way to being him, I met a lawyer who said CLE’s are boring,” says Carter, who agreed. It was then Carter found what has become his calling. He now refers to himself as a humorist-at-law, a one-man joke machine who crisscrosses the country leading CLE courses injected with humor and fun.

His first presentation was to the Riverside, California bar association. The response was excellent, and Carter has been teaching attorneys primarily about ethics, substance abuse and professionalism by relaying humorous anecdotes and funny stories.

Making Money

Imagine attending a comedy show for upwards of eight hours, including breaks for lunch, coffee and the seemingly mandatory emergency call from the office. That’s what it’s like to attend a Sean Carter CLE. If you want to enjoy yourself while earning continuing legal education credit at one of Carter’s seminars, plan on paying a pretty penny.

Comedy isn’t cheap, or at least the price of admission isn’t. For example, when Carter comes to Ohio in November to offer a six-hour CLE class live in Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati in three days, respectively, attendees who are members of The Ohio State Bar Association, the organization sponsoring his visit, will pay $300. Non-members pay more.

Carter’s traveling and speaking schedule gets complicated each year as December 31 approaches since many attorneys wait until the last minute to complete their required CLE credits, he says. For example, Carter is scheduled to speak in Utah, Colorado, Minnesota, Kansas and upstate New York in October alone. November will find him in California, Nevada, Wisconsin, Ohio, North Carolina and Manhattan. December’s schedule is “more ridiculous.”

Who’s There?

Although attendees vary from one CLE to another, Carter says he’s noticed some similarities. Among them is that a majority of attendees are “more senior than junior. They have the money and a younger lawyer can go online,” he says. He has also found that no one practice area permeates among attendees. Moreover, participants work in a gamut of situations, from solo practitioners and small to large firm situations.

While it is more cost effective for a large firm to bring him in to speak their slate of lawyers than to pay for them to attend one of his courses, Carter is not one to complain.

According to Stephen Cianca, assistant director of Continuing Legal Education at the Ohio State Bar Association (OSBA), Carter’s course has been a popular offering since he began presenting in the Buckeye State in 2007. The OSBA brings him back annually because “it’s entertaining,” Cianca says.

When Carter makes three live presentations in the trifecta of Ohio’s “Three C’s” of Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati, upwards of 200 attorneys will pay to hear him speak, Cianca says.

Tami Kamin Meyer is an attorney and writer. She is licensed to practice law in Ohio, both the Southern and Northern Districts of Ohio and the US Supreme Court. She serves as Of Counsel for the Consumer Attorneys of America, a national law firm based in Florida. Her byline has appeared in many publications including Ohio Lawyer, Ohio Lawyers Weekly, Ohio Super Lawyer, Corporate Secretary, GC Mid-Atlantic and the ABA Small and Solo Practitioners newsletter. In 2007, a study guide she wrote about filing personal bankruptcy was published by Quamut, a division of Barnes and Noble.

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