Bar News - July 20, 2007
CLE in the 21st Century
By: Craig Sander
n. A broadcast of an event or a recording of an event over the World Wide Web: a webcast of the solar eclipse. *
Donna Rinker of New Hampshire Pro Audio monitors the Webcast as attorney panelist Andy Schulman addresses the group at the June 29 NHBA-CLE Internet Issues Seminar
As Bedford attorney Andy Schulman, CLE panelist, tackles the dynamics of Internet law, Donna Rinker, co-owner of NH Pro Audio, works in the back of the NHBA’s Seminar Room at the NH Bar Center in Concord and carefully checks her audio and video connections. Anne Breault, NHBA•CLE Program Coordinator, sits with a laptop computer, awaiting questions from attorneys as they receive live CLE credit, some from hundreds of miles away.
The Bar Center is offering its most recent webcast.
The New Hampshire Bar Association stepped eagerly into the 21st century when the NHBA Continuing Legal Education Department hosted its first seminar via Internet webcast at the Bar Center last year. The event marked the emergence of a significant new market for the NHBA•CLE department; their latest for-credit seminar had 254 attorneys taking part. Of those 254, only 84 were actually on-site. The remaining 170 watched from other places, the farthest from Wyoming.
The CLE’s first simulcast seminar, An Overview of the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005, aired on June 1, 2005 from the Merrimack Hotel Conference Center and had 103 participants. Only eight watched from a remote location. Another webcast was aired three months later and 26 participated via the Internet. Joanne Hinnendael, Director of he NHBA•CLE Department, was not disappointed.
“It was the perfect number for us to test and see if we could actually do this,” Hinnendael said. “It also showed us how much help was needed for technology assistance and on-site logistics.”
According to Hinnendael, a year after the first two simulcasts from the NHBA Seminar Room, and after a lot of fine tuning, the CLE department felt ready to offer the first webcast from the Bar Center in summer 2006—with the cooperation of NH Pro Audio, NHBA IT technician Kevin Lessard, and LegalSpan, Inc.
LegalSpan, Inc., which has partnered with the NHBA•CLE department for its online delivery, is a company that hosts online continuing legal education programs from numerous nationwide CLE departments. According to their Web site, the company, founded in 1998, “has built a profoundly solid reputation among its clientele, which includes 40 of the 50 state bar associations and their approximately one million-plus members.”
The CLE staff agrees that the webcasts are a wonderful opportunity for attorneys to get their MCLE credits without the hassle of traveling to Concord to take part in seminars in person. And although the webcasts don’t allow for the networking and personal contact that normally takes place at CLE programs, Hinnendael believes the positives outweigh the negatives.
“It’s very convenient. If you can’t make it to Concord, then you can watch it online,” said Hinnendael. “At the Internet Issues seminar we had 40 attorneys from Missouri take part in the program. So it also allows other state bar members to view and receive credit for their CLE requirements.”
The same is true for New Hampshire attorneys. LegalSpan hosts many for-credit programs from other state bar associations, selected by the NHBA•CLE department and approved by NHMCLE, for NH Bar members. Those items are available at the NHBA Web site under the CLE department’s page. Simply by clicking a tab on the site, lawyers can access the entire online catalogue.
For roughly the same cost as attending a truly “live” seminar, attorneys will have audio and video playback of the program panelists, as well as digital copies of all additional material presented at the event, all viewed over the Web.
Since the NHBA•CLE department began videotaping its programs many years ago, it has consistently evolved to maintain a cutting-edge position in multimedia delivery. Not long ago the department began offering self-study materials in different audio formats, with CD’s and MP3 files that can be listened to from a portable CD player, an I-Pod, or any other digital audio device.
What’s up next? Stay tuned!
* The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004. 10 Jul. 2007.