K&L Gates: How we now offer clients continuing legal education credits – from their laptops

K&L Gates has just enabled its US in-house clients and others to gain continuing legal education (CLE) credits while on the move with the launch of its On-Demand CLE Center, which will offer similar courses in Europe and Asia Pacific in the next couple of months.

Forming part of K&L Gates digital content platform HUB, the On-Demand CLE Center utilises the interactive technology of continuing education solutions provider InReach, which monitors whether counsel are paying attention to the training sessions.

HUB, which launched in February this year, was the brainchild of chief marketing officer Jeff Berardi, who here explains to Legal IT Insider how the new offering came about, how it will be delivered and how the training is sufficiently interactive that it has been approved by bar associations in the US.

Who at K&L Gates is behind the On-Demand CLE Center and how did it come about?

I came up with the idea to provide in-house counsel with an online conference center a number of years ago and HUB was the result of that undertaking. The CLE Center was something that I always envisioned adding to the site when we first built and launched HUB earlier this year.  That said, it was definitely a team effort to make the idea ultimately come to fruition. Members of my marketing team worked closely with the IT department, including chief information officer Scott Angelo, the Professional Development department, and many others within our organization to make this come about. It was a major undertaking to get to the finish line and the main issue was the technology – was it possible to offer something to people on their laptop that they get credit for?

How will you know if lawyers have done the training in order to collect a CLE credit?

This was something that bar associations needed to be comfortable with – these sessions can’t just be viewed remotely when a lawyer is only half listening. InReach has a program that over a random time period sends you something you have to click on the screen – you have to be watching or you miss the credit. We’ve been working with them for a few months to set up the repository and make sure it’s all going to work. In the US the individual lawyer is responsible for making sure they get the credits they need. It’s now something they can do anywhere so this is a value added service.

What sort of client will benefit from the On-Demand CLE Center?

Clients across all industries should be able to benefit from the new On-Demand CLE Center, as we offer content across practices and regions. Indeed, they need not be an existing client to benefit from the service, as we are currently offering it to all in-house counsel who would like to take advantage of this service.  There is also no cost to participate.

What topics does it cover?

We currently have nearly 50 programs in our On-Demand library that cover numerous subjects and topics.  That said, this is just the beginning.  We will be adding content and programing to the library as upcoming programs are presented and recorded.

How will the training sessions be delivered and by who?

They are delivered by our lawyers.  Many of our live programs can be attended in person, but that is not necessary. The lawyers come up with ideas for our programs and some will qualify for CLE and some won’t. The ones that do qualify will now be put on HUB as a webcast or audio file with supporting reading material alongside.

Who is responsible for keeping the content up to date and ensuring that it meets the criteria needed to gain CLE Credits?

Our partners, who are constantly thinking about what issues are critical to our clients, and members of the Professional Development department, are responsible for keeping the content current. We launched with nearly 50 programs, but we will add to this over time as new programs are recorded and entered into the library of offerings.

How will lawyers claim the CLE Credits?

It depends on the location, and as noted, the service is currently available in the US with plans to expand outside the US very soon. In two states, Pennsylvania and Texas, we actually send their certificates in for them. In other states, viewers will have to print off the certificate the system sends them and then send it in to their appropriate bar association. For locations outside the US, we anticipate that they will send the certification to their local jurisdiction.

Do you have any plans to extend the offering further and how?

In addition to continuing to increase and expand our program offerings, the On-Demand CLE Center is currently available for U.S.-based lawyers. Our plan is to be able to provide On-Demand offerings for participants outside the U.S. – including the UK and Australia – in the next couple of months, maybe even sooner.

HUB was launched in February as a central repository for client content – what is the extent of that content and is it now a focal point for the firm’s knowledge management function?

We offer hundreds of webinars, alerts and other valuable content on HUB – sorted by industry, sector and key subjects.  The content is across all practices and in numerous regions throughout the world. A lot of law firms are very internally and practice group focussed but clients don’t say I’m in the M&A or the IP industry, they say I’m in the software or pharmaceutical industry. We are trying to provide our information in a way that makes more sense to the client and so they can easily search across all practice groups.