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Legal Project Management: Thoughts, tips, and discoveries related to the management of legal projects.

Using West LegalED to Get Your LPM-Related CLE Wherever Your Projects Take You

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I started writing this post when I was nearing the completion of my one-year, all-you-can-eat subscription to West LegalED and was deciding whether to renew for another year. I know many of you who read this blog are attorneys who have to meet MCLE requirements to maintain your license(s) to practice law, so I regularly post about events where attorneys can learn about legal-project management and obtain MCLE credits at the same time. Therefore, I thought I would share my experiences with West LegalED to help you in making MCLE-purchasing decisions.


I original subscribed to West LegalED because had to catch up on my MCLE requirements for the New York bar's biennial registration and I wanted the convenience of having one source to manage all of my courses and certificates. I compared the course offerings of a number of MCLE providers and felt that West LegalED provided the best selection of courses on topics relevant to me, such as electronic discovery and legal-project management.

After my first year's subscription came to an end, I re-examined the service to see if it had met my expectations. My decision on whether to renew my subscription was based upon the following six considerations:

  1. Does it provide a good value for meeting my MCLE requirements?

  2. Does it provide a good value for my continuing-education in general, with content relevant to my career, irrespective of licensing requirements? 

  3. Is it convenient for my lifestyle, which is defined by long work hours, frequent international travel, and an often unpredictable work schedule?

  4. How much of a hassle is it to verify, and obtain proof of, attendance?

  5. Is the technology a hassle to use?

  6. Are there better alternatives available to me?

Cost Effective, Convenient Means of Meeting MCLE Requirements

A yearly subscription cost me 840 USD. To keep my New York license current, I have to earn 24 MCLE credits every two years. If you renew your subscription each year, that comes to 70 USD per credit. If you attend enough courses to earn the 24 credits in the one-year subscription period, and only subscribe every other year, that comes to 35 USD per credit. If you were to pay for each course individually, you would be paying around 125 per credit, so I am clearly saving money with the subscription plan.

It isn't, however, the least expensive option. Law.com, for example, offers New York Law bundles (24 credits) for $549. Local bar associations offer similar deals.  But few of those packages offer courses relevant to my work. 

I could probably earn all of my MCLE credits for free. There are plenty of free MCLE courses offered by Vitual Legal Tech, professional organizations, and vendors. There are a number of problems with this approach, however, including:

  • it is inconvenient to schedule them and track the necessary documentation;

  • the free courses are often more introductory than what is available from West LegalEd;

  • they don't come with course material as information rich as many of the West Legal Ed courses;

  • they are usually scheduled at times convenient for the attendees in North America, which means they are very inconvenient for me to attend from Taiwan; and

  • I have to adjust my schedule to attend, rather than accessing on demand, when and where I want.
What really makes the West LegalEd plan a good value to me, however, is that the 840 USD is not just for 24 credits, but for all the content I can consume. This allows me to freely check out various programs even if I don't need the MCLE credit and to check out new topics and not worry about being disappointed with the content. I can take more risks with my continuing legal education.

Quality Content on Interesting Topics Relevant to My Career

One reason that I went with West LegalED is that it has a very large library of content, including programs from PLI, NBI, ALI-ABA, and various state and local bar association programs. There is more than 7,000 hours of MCLE content available from a large and diverse group of content partners. 

This includes a good selection of electronic-discovery programs with some of the best-known names in the field presenting. It also offers the best selection of MCLE programs on legal-project management that I've seen to date, including some excellent programs from the Association of Corporate Counsel and the Hildebrandt Institute.

Convenience: CLE at the Touch of a Finger

For me, one of the biggest selling points of West LegalED is its "CLE Mobile" iPhone app. It allows me to download audio programs and course materials to my iPhone so that I can earn my MCLE credits while traveling by train and airplane. 

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You can also participate in discussion forums for each program from within the app itself, where you can comment on the program's quality or discuss substantive issues with other attendees. From what I've seen, however, most comments are related to the attendee's thoughts about the quality of the program itself.

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Mobile CLE Hassles
As much as I like the West LegalED Mobile CLE app, there are some areas where it could be improved:

Does Not Support Multi-tasking 
You cannot check your calendar, task lists, or any other application and download or listen to programs at the same time. It would be easier to live with this if it were not for the fact that...

The App Takes a Long Time to Load
Every time you open the app, it has to go through a 30-second sync process. 

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Including synchronization of discussion posts for all of your loaded programs:

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Anytime you want to pause a presentation to take a call, take a break, check your calendar or e-mail, you have to wait through this synchronization process when you go back to the app.

Currently Limited to Audio
The mobile app does not support video. It just plays the audio of the presentation. I don't mind not seeing the video of the speakers, generally such video does not add much to the end-user's experience in my opinion. What I don't like, however, is that the slides are not synchronized to the audio. So if you want to see what the presenter is talking about, you have to open the correct slide deck from the presentation materials and follow along manually. Since most speakers do not verbally prompt when to go to the next slide, it is not always easy to follow along. I suspect that many users of this app don't bother trying to follow along with the slides.

No In-App Ordering 
One disppointing limitation of the app is that you can not order programs from the app itself, even with an all-you-can-eat subscription. You have to order the programs you want from the West LegalED Web site, after which they will appear in your available for download list in the app.


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No Automatic or Background Downloading of Content
You have to manually select items from your "Available to Download" list to download the content to your phone. I would rather have the option to start downloading automatically when you first open the app, much in the same way that the Kindle App does for e-books you buy on Amazon.com.


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I also wish it could download in the background. If you switch to another app while downloading content, it will cancel the download. It would be nice if it would continue downloading as you work in other applications, in the same way the you can when downloading Apple Apps or songs from iTunes. 

Misleading Course Titles/Headlines

(This post was updated on April 12, 2011 to add this section.)

In response to a prior postAileen Leventon, President and Founder at QLex Consulting and an instructor of some LPM courses available on West LegalEd, warns:

Sometimes the West legal Ed titles don't tell the full story - and I've not been able to reach anyone at West to highlight this. For example, the ACC program on legal project management at the ACC Annual Meeting in 2010 showcased three law firms and how they are using legal project management techniques in their work - already - through innovative technology developed at the firms. I moderated the program and introduced McDermott Emery's Deal Dashboard, Shook Hardy's litigation management system and Kilpatrick Stockton (now Townsend)'s complex contract monitoring system. The headline is about outside counsel management - when it's really about collaboration and monitoring projects where the scope has been well defined.


Despite Some Flaws, Still the Best 

Given my content needs and use profile, West LegalED remains the best source of MCLE courses. It offers a large library of content, including many programs directly relevant to my work, which is continually being updated. I can consume this content on my own schedule, from overseas, without being seated in front of a computer. I can use my time on international flights to knock off a few MCLE hours.

The attendance verification and the certificate of completion process is the most convenient of any distance-learning MCLE platform I've used. While, I would like to see some improvements made to the mobile app, West LegalED offers the best content and delivery platform for my needs.

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This page contains a single entry by Paul C. Easton published on April 6, 2011 10:00 PM.

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