Thursday, November 20, 2008

Law Society of BC's Wiki Pilot Project

Law societies in most provinces have guidelines for continuing professional development (CPD), and traditionally, credits for that CPD have been earned by attending CLE seminars and workshops.

In BC, 2009 will mark the introduction of a formal, compulsory Continuing Professional Development program. The Benchers of the Law Society of BC have approved an extended list of other activities that qualify for CPD, including:
  • writing law books or articles,
  • participating in video or web broadcasts of CLE seminars,
  • teaching a law-related course.
This broadening of qualifying activities is a big step in the right direction of recognizing that individuals have differing learning styles and preferences. But what really caught my eye was this call for volunteers for a pilot project of the Law Society where participants will build a wiki – and earn CPD credit for it!

The Law Society plans to host a course that will have the volunteers discuss, research, and edit wiki content on the topic of examination for discovery. If the project succeeds, they may run the course again, offering further opportunities for lawyers to earn CPD hours.

This is an interesting project on a number of levels. Professionally, it encourages lawyers of all levels – “from no experience to senior litigators” – to share and benefit from each other’s know-how and experience. From a KM perspective, it will help capture that ever-elusive (but ultra-valuable) tacit knowledge that only comes through practical experience.

Bruce LeRose, chair of the Lawyer Education Advisory Committee, recently noted that “We want to encourage, not just education, but also engagement in learning... The practice of law requires interaction with other lawyers and discussion of ideas. We want this to become part of our learning culture.” I can certainly see how the wiki pilot, if successful, can play a role in that vision.

The challenge, of course, with this or any other Wiki project is to build a core set of contributors and get input on a regular basis. With or without CPD credits in place, getting materials from busy professionals isn't going to be easy. That's not a critique, just a fact. And one we'd hope has already been given ample consideration.

It certainly is an interesting project though. And if you're a BC lawyer wanting to align your learning CPD activities with a public-facing project that displays your expertise, then there's certainly value to be had.

Beyond the efficiency argument - two birds, one stone - this is something I've been advocating over at Stem for a while now: learning, KM, marketing and web profile building are best considered together. When crafting a personal brand that's based around expertise and experience, those elements can help paint a picture about the individual.

Projects like this provide for a unique opportunity. The question now becomes, who and how many will step forward? ... As I said, an interesting project.


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