Since we’ve started producing our own CLE courses, we’re getting a lot of questions on how we did it, how we got it approved, things like that. I’ll say that the first CLE course is the hardest. Once you have all the info and know what you need to do, every CLE course thereafter is a piece of cake. I’ll admit that it was a slow process at first and the NJ Courts site has a LOT of info on it, it’s easy to trip up. After making many calls for explanations on the rules, we started. The info I’m about to give you will save you weeks if not months on the approval process.
First, you need an idea, something that is relevant for attorneys to learn that classifies as CLE. Part of the problem is that you don’t know if it’s relevant until you do all the work and submit it, which is not the greatest since it’s actually a lot of work. Once you have the idea, you need to know what documentation you need to produce in order to get approved. We offer free online webinars, if your looking to be paid for your CLE the process is longer and you’ll have to figure that out for yourself. The hardest part of it all was the attendance process. Through our website we were able to track registration on a backend database that automatically sends out emails to our staff when someone registers, we also get an email when someone inputs the correct attendance code. You see, the code within the webinar tells us that the attorney took the course. We then send that attorney a CLE course certificate of completion. You’ll need to work with your web company to get this all done and automated. The more automated, the better. The Board for Continuing Legal Education in NJ needs a few things from you for approval, this all must be mailed to them, no electronic transmissions…
1. Speaker Bio – Speakers experience & education
2. Entire Presentation – Printed screenshots of your PowerPoint or presentation
3. Embedded Code Explanation – Explanation on how attendance will be taken
4. Course Info – A bulleted rundown of the coure, each chapter, topics and sub-topics
5. Time Agenda – How long each chapter is and a summary of each chapter
6. Brochure – 1 page advertisement, explaining the course w/ graphics
7. Attendance Process – Detailed attendance process explanation, how it works
8. Distributed Materials – Materials download while viewing the webinar
Once you have the idea and create the outline that is more or less the course info and the distributed materials, your ready for the PowerPoint. Keep in mind that the webinar has to be at least 50 minutes to count as a CLE credit hour so between 35 and 40 slides should do as long as you have substantial content. Once your PowerPoint is done, now it’s time for the audio. I like to look at the PowerPoint and course notes and just talk freely. It’s easy for me to embellish on topics because I have the knowledge and experience. If you don’t want to produce the audio yourself and wing it like me, you’ll have to write a script for whoever will be reading. The first webinar we did was read from a partial script, it was a LOT of work to write a 1hr script, so second time around I spoke freely and edited a lot more which worked out just fine. Once the audio is done, now you have the great job of editing it down, taking out the um’s and white noise and making sure it fits at least 50 minutes. You can go longer for partial hour CLE credit but do not go under. Our first webinar was 1.2 credits at about 1hr, 5mins.
The audio is a big job….I use audacity, a free audio editing software for all Rekall’s audio projects, it’s easy and free. Once all that is done (2 to 3 days) you’ll need to sync your audio and PowerPoint. Some video capture software will record PowerPoint straight away because this is a popular process while others make you record the screen only, having to manually click to the next slide while timed and listening to your audio. Best I can tell you is do some research and check out Camtasia. Your be looking for “screen capture software,” that’s the Google search term. Once you have your video PowerPoint timed with your audio (you can do this all in Camtasia) export your new video with embedded audio. With the finished webinar video you can now finalize the time agenda of each chapter.
Now that you have your finished product and all your materials, go online to the NJ courts website and register as a CLE provider here. Here’s also where to check out the fee sheets, FAQ’s and board regulations. This may take a few days and you may want to do this step first. Once you are registered, you have to register the course. Log in with your new credentials as they will be emailed to you and go through the registration process. The fee per course is $100 and they take credit cards online. Keep in mind that you are buying the right to offer this CLE course for 1yr only.
It took me a while to get to this point and between the phone calls and research we finally got a course approved, only took 2 months. Once you submit the course online, print out all the above required documents and send them out to the Board on Continuing Legal Education office, the address is on the website or you can always call. Periodically, check on the status of your course to see if it was approved. They won’t call or email you, you’ll have to see that it’s approved online or call to confirm. On the link above is also the certificate of attendance that must be sent out to attorneys who complete the course. Any questions about this process, give the board a call, they always answer the phone.