Through my research into contract attorney positions I stumbled upon a web site called Solo Practice University (SPU). The web site is a tool that can help bridge the gap between law school and actual law practice. The service provides video lectures as the primary form of learning that are available on many different topics. The topics include substantive areas of the law such as family law or bankruptcy as well as practical lectures in areas of marketing, business and technology. The full list of classes can be accessed before signing up for the site by clicking on the courses tab at the top of the page.
The classes available on various issues relating to the internet and technology are useful no matter your level of technological expertise. Nicole Black’s class on Web2.0 includes some great information on the various cloud based practice management software out there as well as information about the types of social media out there. Much of this information is tailored specifically to attorneys and is thus a lot more useful than reading about general social media trends elsewhere on the web.
Many of the classes start out presented monthly, requiring you to subscribe to the site for a longer period of time in order to gain access to all the classes. However, once a lecturer has posted all of his or her classes, they are made available to stream from beginning to end. Thus, when I signed up a class entitled Essentials of Family Law was available in the form of twelve classes that I could watch at my own pace.
One thing to keep in mind is that the web site is by nature designed to be a resource for attorneys nation wide. As such, even if the lecturer practices in your home state, you will not find the state specific discussion in the detail that would be possible if the class was location specific.
Your login at SPU is through WordPress, and thus you have access to a blog that allows you to reach a larger audience than you may be able to connect with initially if you set up your blog through your own web site. There are also message boards available through which you can connect with the other members of SPU. However, as of when I signed up in February of 2012, the discussions taking place on the message boards appear to have stagnated. Many of the discussions were last replied to months ago. Your subscription also gives you discounts on many books and software from vendors that have partnered with SPU. The full list can be accessed before signing up for a subscription.
The main reason I signed up for the site is to access the video lecturers. So far in my experience the video player runs smoothly. SPU uses videopress for most of their newer videos with each video embedded in the specific lesson page. The video lectures available provide general overviews of areas of law that get you thinking on the specific issues you may have to look for in your own practice. Substantive lectures can also be helpful for those still unsure about what practice area they want to go into.
It has become clear to me over the course of my time at Solo Practice University that it would be quite difficult for any individual to access every single lesson on the site during a short introductory one month subscription like I paid for. However, different people may be interested in different lessons. Thus, it may be possible for you to watch the lessons that are most important to you depending on your strengths and weaknesses. For example, if you struggle with understanding technology, you may find a lot of value from the courses offered on Solo Practice University in the Technology section.
On the other hand, I started Solo Practice University with a very basic understanding of marketing and business concepts and have benefited immensely from the courses offered in that area. Due to the length of this post, I will be posting two subsequent posts covering in detail the courses I have viewed during my time at SPU. Part 2 will cover the substantive courses and Part 3 will cover the marketing and business courses.