I am a new Board Member of the Continuing Legal Education Society of British Columbia. Learning about CLEBC has been an interesting and eye opening experience. I have relied upon CLEBC materials in writing this post.
What is CLEBC?
The Continuing Legal Education Society of British Columbia is a respected and relied upon source of continuing professional education for British Columbia lawyers and their support staff. The Mission of CLEBC is to strengthen the ability of the legal profession to serve the public by providing high quality, accessible, and comprehensive educational resources in a financially viable manner.
CLEBC is a non-profit society and does not receive any funding for operations. It is entirely self-funded from the sale of products and services. It pays market value for office space, equipment, supplies, and other operating costs. It must generate sufficient cash flows to continue to support current service levels and to enhance access using new and emerging technologies. CLEBC has been the beneficiary of Law Foundation grants for research and development.
Role of Volunteers
CLEBC uses about 1,000 volunteers/year to teach and author, amongst other things. We consider these teaching and authoring roles an important aspect of our training responsibilities to the profession. This is especially true for senior and experienced lawyers. We serve their needs by encouraging them to serve as faculty. Faculty often tell us that it takes up to 40 hours to prepare a presentation for a course. In addition, they are meeting with colleagues to discuss issues and consider perspectives. In education we often say that to learn you need to “see one, do one, teach one.” From the teaching comes significant learning.
Role of Directors
CLEBC has four member agencies: LSBC, CBABC, UVic and UBC. UVic and UBC each appoint two directors, LSBC appoints two Bencher representatives, and CBABC appoints two members of Provincial Council. In addition, LSBC and CBABC jointly appoint seven lawyers, one from each County. In addition, there are ex-officio representatives of the Ministry of the AG, Provincial Court of BC, and Supreme Court of BC.
The CLEBC financial plan and budget are developed in consultation with the Board of Directors and approved by the Board in June each year. CLE BC has revenues of over $6 million/year. All revenue that exceeds expenses is reinvested in research and development. In the process of developing the financial plan and budget, the Directors work with staff to identify priority innovation initiatives for each year. These innovation initiatives are also included in the Business Plan.
Comparison to Other Providers
According to a recent survey, CLEBC is the primary provider of continuing legal education products and services for BC lawyers, particularly with our traditional offerings of in-person courses and print-based publications. More than half of respondents indicated that CLEBC is their primary provider. Overall, 89% of respondents reported using CLEBC products and services one or more times in the last three years. About half of this group used three or more CLEBC products and services. 54% used CLEBC as their primary provider of continuing legal education. CLEBC surveys course registrants and faculty after every course and conducts regular surveys of other products and services. This process has been invaluable in ensuring that CLEBC meets the highest standards for quality and usefulness. Of course, we couldn’t do it without the 1000 volunteer faculty, who work with us to serve the profession every year.
The following are some of the initiatives in our 2009-10 business plan:
• Develop partnerships with CBA and LSBC. We are working with CBABC to make courses more accessible to CBABC members. We are working with LSBC staff to support the achievement of the LSBC strategy including in such areas as client identification and verification and in ethics and practice management.
• Develop online short programs through CLE-TV. This 1 hour lunch and learn style program in the TV talk show format was launched in the fall of 2009.
• Develop a website for volunteers—we are working to develop a website to provide our 1000 volunteers with resources to support and enhance the quality of their presentations and written materials.
• Expand staff development; foster a culture of innovation through hiring, training, promoting.
• Enhance CLEBC’s website.
• Improve online publications; develop online precedent service; convert remaining books online.
• Enhance CLEBC’s ecommerce and finance functionality to provide online customer support.
• Develop a product pricing strategy—CLEBC is committed to ensuring that products and services are available to all lawyers and that cost is not a barrier. A Board committee representing numerous sectors of the legal profession is working to make this a reality.