Internet Newsletter for Lawyers
September/October 2003, by Delia Venables

Another in the series on publishers, movers and shakers online

Semple Piggot Rochez
by John Pitman

Semple Piggot Rochez (Legal Education) Ltd was founded in 1996/97 by Michael Semple Piggot, Nicholas Rochez and Toby Davey. Mike Semple Piggot has been involved in legal education for over 25 years, founding the BPP law school with BPP Holdings in 1991, Nicholas Rochez is a Partner in the London law firm LeBoeuf, Lamb, Green & MacRae and Toby Davey is a Barrister at 4-5 Gray's Inn Square.

This is the parent company in what has now become the SPR Group. The other companies in the group are Rollingball Web Design Ltd, Rollingball Digital Television Ltd, Perscitus LMS Ltd and Consilio Ltd. The companies work together to produce some of the most advanced multimedia legal education solutions available today.

The SPR Law School (SPR)

The SPR Law School provide the world's first online law degree programmes for students reading for the University of London's LLB and LLM (External) degrees.

SPR takes a multi-media approach to legal education and their academic programmes offer both extensive resources and interaction. All SPR students are provided with online text-based course and revision materials, audio and video files of lectures and interviews with leading members of the judiciary and practitioners, virtual tutorials and discussion forums, interactive testing and personal assessment, and last but by no means least, access to an online Law Library which rivals in its quality and extent the libraries of most leading law firms.

Consilio

Linked closely with the law school, Consilio is an online magazine for law students. At present Consilio has upwards of 4,500 regular members and experiences between 800,000 to a million page impressions per month.

Much of the content on Consilio is free, including articles, law reports, netradio and television interviews and selected SPR course materials. The site also features a members area (which is also free, but requires registration) offering further course materials and a weekly newswire.

In addition, and in return for an annual payment of £75, the site offers membership of The Consilio Club which includes access to SPR course manuals and case books, a full series of netradio lectures in the eight core subjects, and extensive revision notes and updaters.

The Legal Practitioner

In 2000, SPR took the decision to expand their operations into the field of continuing professional development and, as part of a joint venture with leading legal publishers Butterworths Tolley, launched CPD Direct. In February 2003 CPD Direct became part of The Legal Practitioner The Legal Practitioner suite of multimedia professional training products and has recently been adopted by the Law Society's Young Solicitors Group as their official online training service.

The Legal Practitioner umbrella service also offers a complete portfolio of innovative training products including an ambitious programme of video based CD ROM courses.

In addition, the site is a valuable legal resource in its own right offering legal news and current awareness information to supplement and enhance the training programmes offered. Like its sister site, Consilio, much of the content on here is free, including articles, law reports, a daily news and current awareness service, netradio and television interviews and selected CPD course materials. The site also features a members area (which again is free, but does require registration) offering access to selected online CPD courses, a weekly newswire and special offers.

The site also offers The Legal Practitioner Premier CPD Club which is designed to reduce CPD training costs for individuals or groups of practitioners at competitive rates.

Perscitus

SPR have also become aware that many firms prefer to develop their own training programmes. To this end not only are the SPR team in a position to utilise their multi-media production capability in the provision of bespoke electronic training services to firms on a consultancy basis (both online and on CD-ROM), but are also able, through Perscitus LMS Ltd, to offer a powerful out-of-the-box learning management system.

The system handles e-sales, administration, accounting and delivery of online courses over the internet or through a training intranet. The backbone of the SPR online law school, Perscitus is capable of supporting many thousands of simultaneous users and seamlessly integrating video, sound, interactive text, online TV and radio broadcasting, bulletin boards, e-books, examination and testing systems and online tracking. It provides an extensive range of tools for the user, including a personal calendar, word processor, email client, messaging system, personal web page and an email address directory. Users can be provided with their own private online chatrooms and may even incorporate Microsoft Net Meeting for use with a web cam for online video conferencing.

The SPR Mission

SPR have long believed that web and computer based training methods are fast emerging as some of the most useful and important tools available to today's training professionals and we are determined to open the eyes of the UK legal profession to the benefits of this exciting new medium. Over the last five years the SPR Group has been able to secure the significant investment needed to create a world class suite of products and has recently begun to see its first real returns on that investment.

Lawyers are still a cautious breed however, and many early attempts at providing e-learning to the legal profession have failed to live up to their potential – often with the providers falling by the wayside. It is possible that these early failures have caused training partners to view this type of product with some degree of scepticism. However, SPR are sure that their latest offerings will go a long way towards convincing the sceptics of the true value of the medium.

All in all, the SPR Group is currently looking forward to an interesting and successful future.

John Pitman is Publishing Director of Semple Piggott Rochez, email johnp@spr-law.com.


Note from a press release: "Semple Piggot Rochez win Broadband Britain Regional Champions award"

On Wednesday 13 July 2003, the Broadband Britain Challenge judges named Semple Piggot Rochez (Legal Education) Ltd as their London Regional Final Champion in the ‘Education’ category of the prestigious awards. The award was in recognition of the company’s pioneering work in the provision of online legal education to both students and practitioners.

The prize was awarded to John Pitman, Semple Piggot Rochez’ Publishing Director at a ceremony at The Music Room in Mayfair hosted by TV personality Paul Ross, and Semple Piggot Rochez will now go forward to the national finals of the competition which will be held in London on 12th September.


Next time, in the Publishers, Movers and Shakers Online series, I hope to have articles from Jordans and ICLR.

And in the Irish Extra, there will be a review of Justis from Context, with particular emphasis on the Irish Reports and Digests. The review will be by Nuala Byrne, Law Librarian of the Director of Public Prosecutions in Dublin.

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