The Auckland District Law Society (ADLSI) will enhance its CPD offering with the addition of live stream access to its two hour seminars from today.
The innovative technology allows participants to watch and participate in ADLSI seminars live, and it has been carefully designed to make it feel like the remote audience member is “really there”.
Melissa Fini, ADLSI’s manager of CPD & learning services, says the new CPD offering has been a work in progress over the past 15 months.
After much research, the technology has been developed with the same software used by both Canterbury and Massey Universities, and thanks to the skills of ADSLI’s IT extraordinaire, Lucas Stone.
A recent pilot programme proved the success and viability of the concept.
“It’s been a well thought out process,” Fini told NZ Lawyer
. “My background is a lawyer and with technology I’m one of those people who will adopt something if I have to. So this had to be something easy to use, but also in view of the CPD rules it had to have all those components for interactive communication.”
The result is a live stream that allows the participant to interact just as they would if they were physically attending the seminar. They can provide feedback, ask questions, download the PowerPoint and other materials and see the speakers and the audience.
Fini says she was inspired to investigate a way to deliver CPD seminars to a wider audience of lawyers by removing the barrier of geography after watching a TED talk.
TED talks are a global set of conferences delivered over the internet that have been taking the world by storm in more recent times.
“My philosophy is that with our education we could be bringing technology into it in a much more meaningful way,” she says.
“The convenience is one bonus, but the one that people don’t really talk enough about is how it connects lawyers right throughout New Zealand… An example is we’ve got so many insurance lawyers down in Christchurch now who are experts in the field, and we could benefit from that by having a [streamed] seminar.”
The option to partake in CPD seminars via a live portal is also a recognition that for many lawyers, time away from the office to attend such events - especially if they live out of a main centre, is a significant investment and there is a cost associated with that.
It has other positive spin-offs too. Those lawyers who would normally be hesitant to ask questions in front of a large group can now do it from the relative safety of their computer.
And that’s not all: “One of the lawyers said, ‘it’s great, I can even crack open a beer when I’m doing it’, because no-one can see him,” Fini laughs.
“While a [day-long] conference does certainly still have its place from time to time, I think CPD needs to be mixed up. These shorter sessions are great, but I can totally appreciate for someone in Nelson to come up just for two hours isn’t worth it. I think this live streaming will open up a whole new world for lawyers, especially in specialist areas.”
One of those lawyers is Barbara Vague, the only practising lawyer in the small Southern town of Hanmer Springs.
Vague was one of the original participants in the CPD live streaming pilot, and she says it will make a huge difference to her professional life.
“I certainly found the immediacy of the live stream is something I appreciated and it gave me a sense of collegiality that I don’t get in my present environment,” she told NZ Lawyer
. “I also have a hearing problem, and I watched it using earphones. It gave me the best quality of sound of any seminar I’ve been to.”
Other highlights include the ability to interact with the group and ask questions, Vague says.
If she could improve anything, it would be that after the initial introductions the presenters didn’t seem to be aware of the need to address the wider audience past those who were physically in attendance.
“I guess it’s a little like being on television. The way TV presenters present is completely different to being at a meeting,” says Vague. “I think this could be introduced to the training. It’s perhaps something that younger presenters who are used to skyping would be more aware of.”
She says the introduction of the CPD live streaming is just another extension of the evolution of continuing legal education.
As it’s the first year that lawyers have had to be involved in CPD, this offering provides a vehicle for lawyers to participate in regular learning sessions rather than just trying to “knock off minimum CPD in a couple of conferences”, she says.
Vague has already completed her CPD requirements for the year, but says she’ll continue to tune in.
“It’s never the full answer simply meeting the minimum requirement… With live stream the advantage is there is a lot of localism in the way it’s delivered. If it could become more regional then for many lawyers it’s the answer to not only keeping up with your study but also your colleagues. It really is a very efficient way of tackling the seminar issue.”