General Practice, Solo & Small Firm DivisionTechnology & Practice Guide

WINTER 1998 - VOLUME 1, NUMBER 2 << BACK TO TABLE OF CONTENTS

Broadcast Law

By Eileen C. Gallagher

Imagine attending an ABA seminar without ever leaving your living room or office. Sound too good to be true? Well, now it’s possible with the ABA’s new satellite broadcast channel, Lawyers Communication Network (“LCN”). Broadcasting legal education programs and legal news, LCN enables lawyers anywhere in the country to keep pace with the most advanced legal thinking by simply switching on a television set or desktop computer.

Now Available on LCN...

Technology-Related Programming

• Internet 101: Just the Facts Please!

• Litigation Support Systems—The Next Generation: Integrating Images, Smart Engines and Relational Databases

• Software 101: You Have a Computer—Now What?

• Using 3-D Graphics, Virtual Reality and Other Visual Tools

Law Practice Management Programming

• Rainmaking in the 90s

• Reducing Stress: Working Smarter and Enjoying Life

• Great Tips for Running a Successful Law Practice: How to Improve Your Bottom Line and Sleep Better at Night

What is LCN?

The Lawyers Communication Network is a joint venture of the ABA and Data Broadcasting Corp, Inc. (“DBC”). DBC’s subsidiary, Broadcast International, based in Salt Lake City, Utah provides the network administration and support for LCN while the ABA provides programming. LCN is available exclusively through EchoStar’s DISH Network system. Subscribers have the option of receiving LCN in the home, office, or both. All that is required is an 18” dish attached to the outside of the subscriber’s home or office building, and a digital receiver/tuner. Broadcast International handles all subscriber equipment and installation needs. In addition to LCN programming, residential subscribers receive all the entertainment, music, and business channels ordinarily offered through the DISH Network, for an annual rate comparable to a basic cable bill. Subscribers also have the option to receive LCN via personal computer. This technology not only allows you to watch LCN programming on your PC, but by using Microsoft’s Active X technology, it is possible to simultaneously access program materials on the Internet or take notes on a word processing program. In addition, if you choose to receive LCN on your desktop computer, by utilizing the most advanced Internet “push” technology, you can have important legal information and other meaningful data delivered to you automatically. That is, instead of “surfing” for information, LCN will instantly deliver the information you want directly to your PC screen. You are guaranteed to receive relevant programs because you customize your personal news “wire” by selecting from a diverse menu of choices, including legal news; real-time court decisions; general news; business news by industry; personal stock updates; and sports scores.

Benefits for the Solo and Small Firm Practitioner

The ever-increasing demands on lawyers’ time, combined with the high cost of travel, often make it difficult to attend CLE seminars and programs, even programs that provide vital information for a lawyer’s specific practice area. Now, the Lawyers Communication Network offers the latest in legal news programming, practice-specific information, and law practice management, presented by experts in the field. LCN, which began its regular broadcast schedule in September 1997, has already videotaped more than one hundred CLE programs presented by ABA Sections earlier this year. The LCN broadcast schedule includes sixty hours of programming each month. Programs air Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday afternoons and on Thursday and Sunday evenings, thus providing a variety of viewing times to accommodate viewers’ busy schedules.

Variety in Programming. LCN can be an enormous help to the solo or small firm practitioner in that it helps level the playing field. It enables every lawyer to receive quality, informative legal programs on a wide variety of subject areas. Solo practitioners and attorneys practicing in small firms, handle cases that span a wide range of legal disciplines. It is not enough to be an expert in estate planning. A solo or small firm practitioner who works primarily in estate planning must also be familiar with family law, litigation techniques, real property, and even business law. In addition, these attorneys must know how to run their law practices efficiently and effectively. Staying informed and current in all these areas can be a full-time job in itself. This is where LCN can be especially beneficial.

LCN is dedicated to providing attorneys with the most diverse, intensive legal programming available. Programs offered on the network cover over twenty different legal practice areas. In addition, the network broadcasts skills training, ethics, and professional development programs each month. For example, LCN’s December schedule offers programming on technology, insurance and health law, litigation techniques, criminal law, taxation and family law, the judiciary, labor and employment law, and law practice management. With such a diverse range of programming, LCN has something to offer to the attorney who must wear several different hats in the day-to-day practice of law.

With LCN, the opportunity to learn new and valuable practice information is there for the taking. For example, you may have a few clients who are interested in expanding their businesses into the international marketplace, but you do not know much about international business transactions. What are your options? You could attempt to locate some books on international transactions and read up on the subject. You could go to your local law library and do some research. Or you could check the program schedules of your state and local bar associations for upcoming seminars on international business transactions. The downside of these options is that they place heavy demands on your time and may yield limited information. However, as an LCN subscriber, you could refer to your LCN program guide and find two relevant ABA programs on the subject—“Fundamentals of International Business Law: An Introduction for the Non-Expert,” and “Legal Ethics in International Business Transactions.” Of course, viewing these programs will not make you an instant expert in international law or any other specialized area. It can, however, provide you with a better understanding of that practice area and lead you to other valuable sources of information on the subject, which in the long run will allow you to better serve the needs of your clients.

Recent advances in technology have created another new pressure for attorneys. In addition to being knowledgeable on substantive legal matters, attorneys must now learn and implement technology in their law practices. Technology affects all areas of an attorney’s practice from the way a deposition is taken, to advertising, communicating via e-mail, and the Internet. That is why LCN offers programming on technology and other law practice management issues, including programs for the technology novice such as “Internet 101: Just the Facts Please!” and “Software 101: You Have a Computer—Now What?” LCNalso offers programs for more technically advanced attorneys such as “Using 3-D Graphics, Virtual Reality and Other Visual Tools” and “Litigation Support Systems—The Next Generation: Integrating Images, Smart Engines and Relational Databases.” These programs combined with other offerings such as “Rainmaking in the 90’s;” “Reducing Stress: Working Smarter and Enjoying Life” and “Great Tips for Running a Successful Law Practice: How to Improve Your Bottom Line and Sleep Better at Night” will provide solo and small firm practitioners with an extensive inventory of law practice management programs.

Coming in January to a Computer or Television Near You...

• Dealing Ethically With Unfair Media Criticism (January 4 and 20)

• The Great Equalizer: Using Technology in Litigation (January 4 and 20)

• The Good, the Bad and the Unruly: Controlling the Courtroom
(January 6, 8, and 22)

• High-Tech v. Low-Tech Evidentiary Presentations: Is Razzle-Dazzle Necessary...or Even Necessarily Better? (January 6, 8, and 22)

• The Impact of the 1997 Tax Act on Estate Planning, Administration and Drafting (January 7, 11, and 29)

• Medicine for the Mind (January 8 and 29)

• Child Custody Evaluation Practices (January 8 and 29)

• Law, Science and Technology in the Next Millennium
(January 13 and 28)

• Using 3-D Graphics, Virtual Reality & Other Visual Tools
(January 13 and 28)

• Health Insurance Litigation in the 90s and Beyond: Emerging Issues for Inside and Outside Counsel (January 18)

• Physician-Assisted Suicide (January 21 and 25)

• Effective Preparation and Deposition of the Sexual Harasser and the Plaintiff (January 22 and 27)

• Law in Brief, LCN’s Legal News Program, airs at the start of each broadcast day.

LCN’s broadcast times:

Sunday 7:00-10:00 P.M. EST

Tuesday 12:00-3:00 P.M. EST

Wednesday 2:00-5:00 P.M. EST

Thursday 12:00-3:00 P.M. & 8:00-11:00 P.M. EST

Convenience. Multiple broadcasts of the same program, coupled with the ability to tape LCN programs, provide the additional benefit of convenience to solo and small firm practitioners. Due to busy schedules it may not be convenient to view a program when it initially airs on LCN. That is why programs are repeated in the evenings and on weekends.

Solo and small firm practitioners may not always know what their next case will bring. Taping relevant programs offered by LCN allows an attorney to create a diverse library of videos to draw upon when needed. For instance, you might not currently be involved in a labor and employment case, but you know that your two clients with small businesses might need information in this area relatively soon. You simply tape a few LCN programs such as “Current Issues in Employee Privacy,” “Basic ERISA Practice,” “Basic Equal Employment Opportunity Practice,” and “Basic Occupational Safety and Health Law.” With these programs in your video library, you have ready access to quality information on labor and employment law issues.

Because LCN offers programming on a wide variety of legal disciplines, LCN subscribers receive information about legal areas which they might not normally pursue. Between watching programs and storing other programs on videocassette, attorneys will become aware of trends and changes in the law which will better prepare them to handle client questions.

Training. LCN offers an excellent method of providing new associates with valuable, timely information, thereby allowing partners more time to devote to client matters. The programs are perfect for firm-wide training also. For instance, a firm that subscribes to LCN can tape a program on a relevant topic and then use the video in conjunction with a firm-wide seminar on that topic—perhaps supplementing the video with a presentation by a firm member who has expertise in that subject area.

CLE Credit. CLE credits may be available from certain MCLE states. To find out whether CLE credits are available for a particular program, contact your state CLE accreditation organization or LCN. In those states that provide CLE credit, subscribers simply dial a toll-free number and key in their personal identification number to record their viewing of a particular program.

LCN delivers program study materials through a variety of formats. Program materials are currently available on the LCN Website for downloading. The Website will have restricted access so that only subscribers will be able to obtain the materials. In addition, study materials will be available via a fax-on-demand service. Subscribers may also request program materials be sent to them through the mail, in print, or on disk.

Interactive Programming. Viewing programs on LCN will not deny an attorney the opportunity for the interactivity that is crucial to any live program. The network will provide some form of interactivity whenever feasible. Depending on the needs and schedules of the program presenters, subscribers are able to ask questions via e-mail, fax, LCN-sponsored chat rooms on the Internet, or LCN-sponsored discussion threads on the Internet. Presenters also have the option of conducting formal Q&A sessions following the programs. Programs that are broadcast live also allow subscribers to call in and ask questions. When attending a live program there is not always the opportunity or time to have a question answered or to speak directly with a presenter. The variety of interactivity options offered to subscribers not only presents the opportunity to ask questions, but also the opportunity to participate in meaningful, relevant discussions with the presenters and other subscribers.

Online Access. The LCN Website is designed to provide information on programs, news events, subscription procedures, and CLE policies. The Website is also central to connecting subscribers with chat rooms, discussion threads, and Q&A sessions for the various programs. The practitioner who visits the LCN Website will be able to provide feedback on the programs, ask general questions, or request specific information relative to the programming.

Cost

The cost of subscribing to LCN varies depending on several factors: (1) necessity of equipment installation, (2) size of firm, (3) number of attorneys subscribing, and (4) type of installation (residential or office). Contact LCN for pricing information specific to your needs.

Conclusion

By utilizing state-of-the-art satellite technology, combined with the quality programming developed by the ABA, LCN offers ABA members an exciting, new, and extremely convenient method to obtain CLE credits, keep up-to-date on current legal trends, and hone their legal skills. Robert Stein, Executive Director of the ABA said it best, “[LCN] is another example of the ABA developing new ways to help lawyers keep up with the law, better serve their clients, and improve their skills, all at their own convenience and comfort, and when it makes the most sense for them during their busy professional and personal lives.”

For more information about LCN, please call 888-4ABALCN (888-422-2526).

Eileen C. Gallagher is an attorney licensed to practice in Illinois. She is the ABA’s LCN Program Planner and Developer. She may be contacted via e-mail at gallaghe@staff.abanet.org.

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