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Pillsbury Winthrop threw a lifeline to procrastinating clients who needed minimum continuing legal education credits — and fast. About 60 in-house lawyers took Pillsbury up on its offer for free CLE credits during a recent series of daylong marathon sessions. Staged in January, the event helped some firm clients beat a Jan. 31 deadline. Lawyers whose names ended in letters A through G needed to log 25 MCLE credits with the State Bar by that date. “It’s a lot more efficient use of people’s time to do it in one day,” said Marina Park, Pillsbury managing partner who helped coordinate the firm’s first CLE marathon. In all, about 300 Pillsbury clients took advantage of free, daylong CLE sessions held in the firm’s eight California offices over a two-week period. Park said she scanned the list of attendees and found some clients whose last names ended with other letters who had come to stock up for the future. The firm crammed nine hours of CLE credits into the one-day events, even lecturing straight through lunch. And the firm dished up some hard-to-get but required credits on ethics, substance abuse and workplace bias. “If you’re busy and trying to stay on top of legal issues, these aren’t areas you’re going to seek out in your spare time,” Park said. For Park, the most fun came in dreaming up the topics for the other CLE credits. She said she and her team tried to come up with issues that most in-house lawyers could identify with. Given the many changes lawyers have had to make under corporate reforms contained in the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, she said, “Managing Risk in 2004″ became the theme. “It’s a fascinating year,” Park said. And with a presidential election coming up, for example, the firm tossed in sessions on political activism, featuring some do’s and don’ts if company employees get involved, Park said. Even something as seemingly benign as employees using the office copier for campaign literature can be a problem, Park said. “You can get into a lot of trouble if you mess up.”

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