Update: Please note, I am no longer with Freedman Consulting. When I left we closed the online store, though Freedman Consulting is still an accredited provider. I am not an accredited provider.
If you would like to see one of the seminars that I personally recorded, you may do so on my YouTube channel. They are not offered for CLE credit. https://www.youtube.com/user/jnferellis
When I was at PBI I never had to worry about whether my courses would be approved. I knew the CLE rules top to bottom and made sure that my courses fit within those rules, but because PBI is an accredited provider, all courses presumptively receive credit. The CLE Board watches the courses to make sure nothing that obviously violates the rules comes through, but other than that, it is assumed, that once you go through the approval process you know what you are doing.
I decided that I wanted to have the same security with Freedman Consulting and so went through the process.
Creating the seminars
To become an accredited provider you actually have to have 5 seminars under your belt. This was a bit of a problem for me. Though both Ellen and I have taught many seminars, we have never personally put them through for credit. There was no point in offering traditional seminars for no credit, we would have lost a lot of money when no one signed up. I also didn’t see much of a point in offering web-based seminars either. So, after speaking with the very helpful Sue from the CLE Board, I decided that Ellen and I would record our 5 seminars to submit for credit, and then place them on our website as on demand options.
Finding the time to record 5 seminars wasn’t particularly easy. Then, of course, I had to edit the seminars. I don’t know if you have ever edited anything, but I can tell you, the editing can take an extremely long time. I didn’t have a reason to do much editing before I joined Ellen, now I do it all the time. And if you are editing something very tightly, you can end up spending quite a few hours on something that only took 15 minutes to record. Fortunately I wasn’t editing that tightly, but still, it took a while.
I also needed to find a way to make certain that attendees could prove they watched the seminars. This is a necessary requirement for the CLE Board. I know that a number of providers simply insert a code that the attendees have to write down, so I decided to do that. Easy, right? Well yes and no. First I had to make the graphic that contained each of the codes (several for each seminar) and then I had to record the screen showing and my voice saying the codes. Then I had to insert those clips into each seminar.
Of course I also had to do an appropriate introduction reminding people to watch for the codes and complete the attestation form.
Once all of the video editing was done and the seminars were ready to go, I gathered the written materials together. As it happens I recorded two of the seminars and Ellen recorded three of them. So Ellen sent me her sets of materials, I pulled mine together, and then I created books in PDF format.
Last, I put everything on a DVD, mailed it off to Sue and crossed my fingers.
I sent the DVD to Sue shortly before Thanksgiving, so I was very impressed when she emailed me on Monday to inform me Freedman Consulting had been approved. I was thrilled, given all of the work I had put into the process. Sue told me that I had made it easy for her and that was why we got our approval so quickly. Good deal! I was very excited when I got approval, I don’t mind telling you. I was nervous about it, and since we had put so much work into the process, I didn’t know what I would do next if we didn’t get approved.
Learning the ropes
Obviously, after 12 years creating CLE, I know a thing or two about the rules and putting together seminars; but I had no idea how the course actually got sent to the CLE Board or put on the website, nor how credits were reported. Fortunately, there was one final step in the formal approval process, training. Today Sue spent an hour on the web with me showing me how to input seminars, create rosters, and submit names for credit. It is an easy process if you don’t have many attendees, but I am not surprised that large providers develop more automated processes. It would take a very long time to submit the hundreds of seminars and thousands of attendees large providers have.
Putting the seminars up
With a bit of trepidation, I went online just a bit ago and added Freedman Consulting’s five seminars to the Pennsylvania CLE Board’s system. Sue explained it very well, so it turned out to be quite easy. I understand that within 24 hours my seminars will be up on the CLE Board’s website, so those of you combing for your December ethics credits will be able to find them on there.
Accessing our seminars
Proper ecommerce is actually a bit difficult when it comes to video. In the end I went with a combination of Shopify and an application called Fetch. Working together these tools let me set up a relatively simple store. Of course, we also need to be able to accept credit cards. We undertook the application process and got approved quite quickly. Now we just need to add the information to our website, which I will have our webdesigner do asap. In the meanwhile, I set up the site so people who want to watch our seminars can use PayPal to pay. Not the best solution, but workable. If you are interested, you don’t actually need to sign up for a Pay Pal account.
The store is a temporary solution so we could get our seminars up as soon as possible for those who might be interested. We will be moving to a more advanced system in the next few months. I didn’t want people to have to wait since it is December, which is a compliance month in PA and various other states.