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Law academy takes training online amid virus crisis

Law academy takes training online amid virus crisis

Source: Straits Times
Article Date: 18 Mar 2020
Author: K.C. Vijayan

Positive response to the move to minimise physical contact to curb spread of Covid-19.

The hazard of throngs of people mingling amid the escalating Covid-19 outbreak has prompted the Singapore Academy of Law (SAL) to take a course of action that many lawyers say is a "welcome development".

The academy is now holding online webinars for the professional development of lawyers, in place of training seminars that require them to attend in person.

The first such accredited webinar, Tax Essentials for Young Corporate Lawyers, also drew more lawyers, SAL deputy director Anita Parkash told The Straits Times.

About 100 lawyers signed on for the session held earlier this month, an increase of more than 60 per cent over the 60 who had registered earlier for the seminar.

In a webinar - shorthand for Web-based seminar - the presentation, lecture or workshop is transmitted over the Internet, using video conferencing software. And participants can share materials with others attending it.

The need to change became urgent after the Covid-19 risk level was raised to Dorscon Orange last month, said Ms Parkash.

"It reduced the availability of learning in the traditional formats accredited under the legal profession's Continuing Professional Development (CPD) scheme", she said. The scheme is administered by the Singapore Institute of Legal Education.

Lawyers, based on their seniority, are required to accumulate a prescribed minimum number of points in a year by attending accredited courses, seminars and other means of learning.

These CPD points are a must for renewing their practising certificates yearly.

Junior lawyers such as Mr Chua Cheng Yew applauded the change.

Said the 29-year-old, who must acquire 16 CPD points as he is in the junior category with less than five years in practice: "The convenience of clocking CPD points from the comfort of my office is a welcome development."

Not only would webinars allow learning to go on as scheduled, they also ensure "we abide by the social distancing advisory", Mr Chua said.

Social distancing and other precautionary measures are encouraged by the authorities to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

SAL's programmes account for one in four CPD points from accredited CPD activities.

Ms Parkash said the academy has been working closely in the past month with agencies such as LinkedIn Learning to ease the impact the Covid-19 situation has had on CPD activities.

"We are rolling out webinars, which, beyond adding convenience, also expand the reach of SAL's programmes through greater participation, she added.

Ms Parkash, a deputy director in SAL's Legal Education Cluster, said it is next converting its Annual Review of Singapore Cases (Personal Data) session into a webinar for later this month.

The Annual Review is a signature series for SAL and about 65 lawyers have registered for the personal data session, which is the first of several other areas to be covered in due course, she added.

"The response of the profession to learning in new online formats is very encouraging," she said.

"Covid-19 signals the legal community is both willing and able to embrace technology (for) its professional development.

She also said SAL will use the information and feedback from the online learning "to inform how it can continue to develop a comprehensive suite of structured learning programmes".

Source: Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Permission required for reproduction.

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