As the United States' Thanksgiving holiday approaches, I wanted to take a break from the more traditional blog post to introduce readers to Jennifer Flynn who, along with her organization The Legal Education Society of Alberta, is doing some very innovative and exciting things in CLE -- or CPD (continuing professional development) as our Canadian friends call it!
I am currently the Managing Director of the Legal Education Society of Alberta. I have been with LESA for two and half years. Prior to joining LESA, I was a Business Law instructor at the JR Shaw School of Business. It was there that I developed an interest in instructional technology as a means of promoting student engagement. Before becoming a full-time educator, I practiced Corporate/Commercial law with a large firm, with an emphasis on information technology law issues.
In addition to degrees in Commerce and Law, I also have a Master of Arts in Communications and Technology. In the course of this degree, I covered such topics as online collaboration, and using and managing communications technologies. Over the course of this degree, I studied everything from print and telegraph, through to wikis, blogs, and Twitter. My graduate research specifically examined lawyers' use and acceptance of technology.
I am married to my high school sweetheart. Aaryn and I have two young sons, Kyle and Declan, who keep us exceptionally busy.
What did you think you would be when you grew up?
I have always been drawn towards business, and wound up in law school almost by accident. Over the years, I have developed diverse interests in law, education, and technology. In my current role, I get to focus on business, but in the context of these varied areas of interest. It really is the perfect job for me.
When someone asks you what you do, how do you respond?
I am part of a fantastic team that supports the continuing professional development of articling students, lawyers, and their staff.
When did you first become involved with CLE?
I became involved in CLE in 2008, when I joined LESA as Associate Director, Print and New Media. The job description was the perfect blend of law, education, and technology.
What drives/motivates you most with what you’re doing now?
It is hard to narrow it down!
I work with a diverse group of incredibly bright, talented, and dedicated individuals-- from my organization, the local legal community, and the broader CLE community. These people keep me going.
With evolving technology and a deeper understanding of how people learn, I just see so much potential for our industry. I believe that the work we do really makes a difference in the lives of lawyers, students, and their staff—as well as benefiting the public they serve.
You’re kind of a techie – what’s your favorite gadget?
At the moment, I am quite enamored with my iPad – when I can wrestle it away from my 4 year old!
What do you see as the biggest difference between CLE in Canada vs the United States?
When it comes to CLE (referred to as CPD or “continuing professional development” here), I think there is far more that unites us than divides us.
That said, one major difference is that approximately half of our resources are devoted to pre-call admission training. The specifics vary depending on the province, but generally extensive practical training, plus an apprenticeship known as “articling”, is a prerequisite to bar admission in Canada. This practical training is a major focus for many of us in Canada.
Thank you Jennifer for taking time out of your busy schedule to share a little about who you are and what you do! Be sure to check out the LESA website for a taste of what the organization is doing now as well.