ILNews

More attorneys are turning to online programming to get CLE credit

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share
Indiana Lawyer Focus

A time change, a 2.5-hour drive and the stress that comes with trying to find a parking space during rush hour convinced Evansville attorney Laura Scott to leave a day early and book a hotel room for the night.

The partner at Bamberger Foreman Oswald & Hahn LLP was preparing to depart from her office one recent Monday afternoon and drive to Louisville for a continuing legal education class that did not begin until 8 a.m. Tuesday.

Licensed in both Kentucky and Indiana, Scott has to log several CLE hours each year. Sometimes she has to travel a distance to take classes, other times she can walk down the street to the Evansville Bar Association to attend a session. Occasionally, she downloads an on-demand continuing education legal video and watches it from her desktop computer.

Since 2006, Indiana attorneys have been allowed to count CLE classes offered over the Internet toward their total required continuing education hours. The popularity of online programs has been growing among lawyers primarily because of the convenience. Lawyers do not have to budget travel time into their schedules to attend a seminar.

To feed the appetite for online CLE courses, the Indiana Continuing Legal Education Forum is among the CLE providers that have increased Internet offerings in response to demand from attorneys. Starting with about 25 online programs in 2006, the organization now has an estimated 50 to 60 online classes ranging from one-hour sessions on specific topics to six-hour seminars covering broad subject matters.

Feedback on these programs has been positive, said Scott King, program director at ICLEF. Attorneys like the freedom to watch when they want and they like having the ability to stop and review segments of the presentation they may not have understood.

“I think it will evolve in some way but it’s certainly here to stay,” he said. “I think it’s proven to be an effective and convenient way for attorneys to get information.”

Changing technology

Under the Indiana Rules for Admission to the Bar and Discipline of Attorneys, licensed lawyers are required to complete no less than 36 hours of approved CLE courses during a three-year period. Currently, no more than six of those class hours may be taken online.

Raise the limit on how many hours an attorney can take online and more will turn to their computers and tablets for continuing legal education, King said.

“The interest is increasing, but it has been a fairly consistent percentage of people attending the programs in large part because of the six hours restriction.”

Marc Abplanalp, an attorney in Student Legal Services at Indiana University, turned to an on-demand CLE video when he was short of the hours he needed for 2012. From his office computer he watched the program, starting and stopping it when he took a break or got a phone call.

“As long as you don’t mind not being in the same room as the speaker in the CLE, I think it’s a great way to get the credit,” Abplanalp said. “It’s got ultimate flexibility and convenience.”

Without having the online programming available, Abplanalp would likely have had to take a whole day off work and drive to Indianapolis for a live program.

Frequently, the Indiana Commission for Continuing Legal Education is asked what programming meets the criteria for online classes, which are considered distance education under the admission rule. It has been considering an update to the rule to clarify what constitutes distance education, said Julia Orzeske, executive director of the commission. Even so, changing the rules takes time and with technology advancing at a rapid pace, any new rule could be outdated before it goes into effect.

Instead, she advocates paying attention to what the CLE courses are teaching rather than how the classes are being delivered to the participants.

“I would like to take a look at it as far as meaningful content,” Orzeske said. “Technology is a part of that but (we need to) look at the overall quality of course” to determine whether a program counts toward CLE credit.

In regards to content, King pointed out that online programming can cover very narrow, niche subjects. A live CLE class on a constrained topic would probably not attract enough participants to cover the expense of offering the program, but online audience size makes no difference. The course can be put on the Internet and attorneys who practice in that narrow field can access it and learn from it.

Abplanalp liked the on-demand video he watched about trial strategy. He took notes and learned practical skills that he believes will help him the next time he is in court.

Adult learners

Getting quality content online takes more than setting up the video camera and pushing the “on” button. Some speakers and some courses are more effective than others when streamed over the Internet.

The structure of the program and its format have to be carefully considered, said Cheri Harris, director of continuing legal education at the Indiana State Bar Association. Like Orzeske, Harris said the primary focus should be on content, not the electronics.

“In my opinion, just from the standpoint of education, not every program is suited for online,” she said.

More than the technology, Harris said the objective should be to engage adult learners in a variety of ways. Some are visual learners, some are auditory learners, and some learn by doing, so the better programs cater to all these learning abilities.

In Evansville, Scott uses online CLE classes because she does not have to go to a different location and she can watch them when her schedule allows.

However, she prefers to attend CLE programs in person. Being in the same room as the presenter and other lawyers is a much more enriching experience, Scott said, because she can participate in question-and-answer segments and engage in discussions with the other attorneys. She learns a great deal from the informal conversations that happen during breaks or after class.

Also, she said attending a live CLE removes her from the distractions of her office. Even when she closes her door and disconnects her phone, she can still get interrupted by colleagues.

Abplanalp agreed that going to a live program is more engaging. However, he said if he returned to solo private practice, he would likely take as many online CLE hours as he was allowed under the rule because of the convenience – he would not have to leave his office nor be unavailable to his clients.

“This is extremely valuable to today’s busy attorneys,” he said.•

ADVERTISEMENT

Post a comment to this story

COMMENTS POLICY
We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
 
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
 
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in Indiana Lawyer editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
 
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
 
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
 

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
ADVERTISEMENT
Subscribe to Indiana Lawyer
  1. Yes diversity is so very important. With justice Rucker off ... the court is too white. Still too male. No Hispanic justice. No LGBT justice. And there are other checkboxes missing as well. This will not do. I say hold the seat until a physically handicapped Black Lesbian of Hispanic heritage and eastern religious creed with bipolar issues can be located. Perhaps an international search, with a preference for third world candidates, is indicated. A non English speaker would surely increase our diversity quotient!!!

  2. First, I want to thank Justice Rucker for his many years of public service, not just at the appellate court level for over 25 years, but also when he served the people of Lake County as a Deputy Prosecutor, City Attorney for Gary, IN, and in private practice in a smaller, highly diverse community with a history of serious economic challenges, ethnic tensions, and recently publicized but apparently long-standing environmental health risks to some of its poorest residents. Congratulations for having the dedication & courage to practice law in areas many in our state might have considered too dangerous or too poor at different points in time. It was also courageous to step into a prominent and highly visible position of public service & respect in the early 1990's, remaining in a position that left you open to state-wide public scrutiny (without any glitches) for over 25 years. Yes, Hoosiers of all backgrounds can take pride in your many years of public service. But people of color who watched your ascent to the highest levels of state government no doubt felt even more as you transcended some real & perhaps some perceived social, economic, academic and professional barriers. You were living proof that, with hard work, dedication & a spirit of public service, a person who shared their same skin tone or came from the same county they grew up in could achieve great success. At the same time, perhaps unknowingly, you helped fellow members of the judiciary, court staff, litigants and the public better understand that differences that are only skin-deep neither define nor limit a person's character, abilities or prospects in life. You also helped others appreciate that people of different races & backgrounds can live and work together peacefully & productively for the greater good of all. Those are truths that didn't have to be written down in court opinions. Anyone paying attention could see that truth lived out every day you devoted to public service. I believe you have been a "trailblazer" in Indiana's legal community and its judiciary. I also embrace your belief that society's needs can be better served when people in positions of governmental power reflect the many complexions of the population that they serve. Whether through greater understanding across the existing racial spectrum or through the removal of some real and some perceived color-based, hope-crushing barriers to life opportunities & success, movement toward a more reflective representation of the population being governed will lead to greater and uninterrupted respect for laws designed to protect all peoples' rights to life, liberty & the pursuit of happiness. Thanks again for a job well-done & for the inevitable positive impact your service has had - and will continue to have - on countless Hoosiers of all backgrounds & colors.

  3. Diversity is important, but with some limitations. For instance, diversity of experience is a great thing that can be very helpful in certain jobs or roles. Diversity of skin color is never important, ever, under any circumstance. To think that skin color changes one single thing about a person is patently racist and offensive. Likewise, diversity of values is useless. Some values are better than others. In the case of a supreme court justice, I actually think diversity is unimportant. The justices are not to impose their own beliefs on rulings, but need to apply the law to the facts in an objective manner.

  4. Have been seeing this wonderful physician for a few years and was one of his patients who told him about what we were being told at CVS. Multiple ones. This was a witch hunt and they shold be ashamed of how patients were treated. Most of all, CVS should be ashamed for what they put this physician through. So thankful he fought back. His office is no "pill mill'. He does drug testing multiple times a year and sees patients a minimum of four times a year.

  5. Brian W, I fear I have not been sufficiently entertaining to bring you back. Here is a real laugh track that just might do it. When one is grabbed by the scruff of his worldview and made to choose between his Confession and his profession ... it is a not a hard choice, given the Confession affects eternity. But then comes the hardship in this world. Imagine how often I hear taunts like yours ... "what, you could not even pass character and fitness after they let you sit and pass their bar exam ... dude, there must really be something wrong with you!" Even one of the Bishop's foremost courtiers said that, when explaining why the RCC refused to stand with me. You want entertaining? How about watching your personal economy crash while you have a wife and five kids to clothe and feed. And you can't because you cannot work, because those demanding you cast off your Confession to be allowed into "their" profession have all the control. And you know that they are wrong, dead wrong, and that even the professional code itself allows your Faithful stand, to wit: "A lawyer may refuse to comply with an obligation imposed by law upon a good faith belief that no valid obligation exists. The provisions of Rule 1.2(d) concerning a good faith challenge to the validity, scope, meaning or application of the law apply to challenges of legal regulation of the practice of law." YET YOU ARE A NONPERSON before the BLE, and will not be heard on your rights or their duties to the law -- you are under tyranny, not law. And so they win in this world, you lose, and you lose even your belief in the rule of law, and demoralization joins poverty, and very troubling thoughts impeaching self worth rush in to fill the void where your career once lived. Thoughts you did not think possible. You find yourself a failure ... in your profession, in your support of your family, in the mirror. And there is little to keep hope alive, because tyranny rules so firmly and none, not the church, not the NGO's, none truly give a damn. Not even a new court, who pay such lip service to justice and ancient role models. You want entertainment? Well if you are on the side of the courtiers running the system that has crushed me, as I suspect you are, then Orwell must be a real riot: "There will be no curiosity, no enjoyment of the process of life. All competing pleasures will be destroyed. But always — do not forget this, Winston — always there will be the intoxication of power, constantly increasing and constantly growing subtler. Always, at every moment, there will be the thrill of victory, the sensation of trampling on an enemy who is helpless. If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face — forever." I never thought they would win, I always thought that at the end of the day the rule of law would prevail. Yes, the rule of man's law. Instead power prevailed, so many rules broken by the system to break me. It took years, but, finally, the end that Dr Bowman predicted is upon me, the end that she advised the BLE to take to break me. Ironically, that is the one thing in her far left of center report that the BLE (after stamping, in red ink, on Jan 22) is uninterested in, as that the BLE and ADA office that used the federal statute as a sword now refuses to even dialogue on her dire prediction as to my fate. "C'est la vie" Entertaining enough for you, status quo defender?

ADVERTISEMENT