The rise and rise of CPD live streaming: Massive uptake since launch

by Sophie Schroder29 Oct 2014
It’s only been seven weeks, but already the Auckland District Law Society Inc (ADLSI) is seeing the immense value that its long-awaited live streaming of CPD seminars offers to Kiwi lawyers.
The innovative technology, which was developed over 15 months, 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, told NZ Lawyer that since its launch, the new CPD offering has been a smashing success.
“We’re so delighted with the response we’ve had, it’s just been phenomenal,” she says. “The geographic spread of participants is great too. It’s a good way of connecting with lawyers outside of the traditional Auckland region – we’ve had [participation] right throughout New Zealand.”
As well as developing the live streaming of CPD seminars with regional lawyers in mind, Fini says trends also indicate that many lawyers have a preference for shorter CPD sessions that can be accommodated around their other work demands.
“Live-streaming therefore meets a need in providing access to relevant, meaningful CPD delivered by way of these shorter sessions.”
Although Fini was always confident the live streaming uptake would go well after the success of the pilot programme, she thought growth would be incremental, rather than so sharply.
And while ADLSI initially had some concerns that seminar rooms would empty as lawyers chose to attend the CPD seminars online, surprisingly this hasn’t been the case at all.
The number of physical attendees has remained steady, while at the same time the number of live streaming participants has even reached the 200-person limit on occasion.
“If the demand is consistently this high we’ll look at increasing our license [for the cap],” says Fini. “What is says to me is that lawyers are fast adopters of technology – it’s a myth that [they’re not].”
ADLSI has observed other subtle and unexpected benefits, such as more discussion being generated at seminars.
Quite possibly, those who might be hesitant to ask questions in front of a large group may feel more empowered to do so through the ADLSI live stream facilitator, who oversees the Q & A box. 
“We’re getting a lot more discussion. If there is a pause, then we put through a live stream question,” says Fini.
When NZ Lawyer  covered the launch of the live streaming programme two months ago, we spoke with Barbara Vague, the only practising lawyer in the small Southern town of Hanmer Springs.

Vague was one of the original participants in the pilot programme, and said 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…
“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.”
She thinks 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”, Vague said.

She has already completed her CPD requirements for the year, but said 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.”
On a lighter note, that’s not all the live streaming offers, according to another recent participant:
“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,” ADLSI’s Fini laughs.
Looking to the future, she says the law society will be constantly reviewing and monitoring the technology, and keeping an eye out for improvements in the market.
“As soon as there’s better technology out there, we’ll embrace it. We’re happy with what we’ve got…but we are poised to make amendments.”
Fini says the most rewarding aspect of the journey to deliver live streamed CPD seminars has been the number of lawyers who have said, “thanks for making it happen”.
“That keeps us totally motivated. It’s great morale for the team.”