Continuing Legal Education Society targets accessibility

The Continuing Legal Education Society of BC is focused on improving the online and financial accessibility of its services as it prepares for 2008 and beyond.

“We plan to offer many of our courses online,” CLEBC board chair Tom Fellhauer told the Benchers at their November meeting. “That means BC lawyers will have 24/7 internet access to many of our practice manuals, live online courses and archived webcasts of many of our courses, and case digests updated weekly.”

CLEBC has launched a bursary program designed to ensure that every lawyer who wants to attend a course will be able to do so. “A 50 per cent discount on the cost of most courses — including live webcast and video repeats — is available to lawyers who state they would not be able to attend without financial assistance,” said Fellhauer. “They can make that statement by completing an application form.”

“There is no maximum income threshold, and additional assistance is available upon request. Our goal is to establish a level playing field for BC lawyers to access CLEBC’s products and services, regardless of location or financial circumstances.”

Although CLEBC has been a non-profit society since inception, Fellhauer pointed out that it funds its operations entirely from revenues generated by its courses, materials, publications and services. “Of necessity, we are highly responsive to changes in demand for our products and services.”

He also noted the increasing attention paid to ethics and practice management issues in CLEBC’s courses. “Ethics and practice management points are being embedded in all our new courses as they’re coming on stream,” Fellhauer said. “We’ve asked our instructors to note the number of hours their courses devote to topics raising ethical and practice management issues — making it easy for attendees to track that content.”

According to Jack Huberman, QC — CLEBC’s executive director since the organization began operating in 1979 — finding creative new ways to enhance its offerings to lawyers goes to the heart of the organization’s purpose. “Our job is simply to provide lawyers with the resources they need to provide the best possible service to their clients.”

One such resource will be CLEBC’s new online forms and precedents bank that is currently under development. “This will be an ideal tool for the new lawyer or general practitioner,” Huberman said. “A collection of more than 1,000 forms and precedents prepared by leading practitioners, the online forms and precedents bank will be made up of fully editable and ready-to-use documents.”

Fellhauer stressed the importance of the contributions made by CLEBC’s dedicated volunteer instructors and authors over the years.

“Our current roster of volunteers runs to about 1200 lawyers and judges,” he said. “Our volunteers make CLEBC work.”

“Without them, we couldn’t do what we do.”