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Lawyers go online as CPD deadline looms

January 31, 2012



AS the deadline for gaining compulsory continuing online professional development points looms, a growing number of lawyers are turning to their online options.

The 31 March marks the deadline for lawyers to get their CPD points, which makes this the busiest time of year for online providers of CPD points. But some law firms and lawyers still turn to the traditional models of seminars, classes, and out-of-date videos.

In the Australian legal profession there remains some resistance to the adoption of online legal training, while a growing number is slowly looking at online options.

Some larger firms have developed their own online learning solutions, such as Blake Dawson’s salt Enterprise, and others have adapted existing programs for certain types of training, such as occupational health and safety, or privacy, generally online learning (or ‘eLearning’) has not been widely embraced. A large percentage of lawyers still prefer to gain points by attending seminars.

But as the technology improves, and the ability to log in while still in the office is an easy option for lawyers, law firms are signing up for yearly subscriptions for all lawyers to do their CPD points online.

Lawyers face ever-increasing demands upon their time, says Natalie Wieland, a lawyer who started CPD Interactive while on maternity leave in 2007.

Any continuing resistance to online training may suggest a need for a cultural shift in the way many lawyers think about learning. Wieland says having online training as an option means lawyers who are “geographically challenged” still get to do interesting things.

The first major shock for Wieland when she launched CPD Interactive was that the legal industry didn’t know what online learning was, not that you could get a point online.

But interest is growing, she says, particularly in the ethics module which is a new compulsory area. Now, she says, she get a lot of repeat business from lawyers realising the ease of going online, often during work hours.

Lawyers do typically leave things to the last minute, she says. “Our busiest day of the year is 31 March and it’s ethics that is most popular.”

But she says the interest in ethics is purely just people being compliant. Also popular is the social media and marketing in law firms module, which covers the risk of social media.

The other great benefit of online CPD Courses is the opportunity to gain the points while overseas, says Wieland. “We just had a partner in Vietnam do a course.”

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