When and why?
Sometime around March/April 2020 the idea came to me - roughly coinciding (and somewhat 'inspired' by) the Covid-19 lockdown.
I guess I realised that more people were going to be expected to work remotely. They were going to be given the hardware (laptops and the like) to be able to do it, but they weren't necessarily going to be shown how to make the best use of the available software.
I also realised that my own day job was going to take a hit. I'm self-employed and work in the courts, so if the Covid-19 lockdown impacted on court business it was also going to impact on my business. That meant a significant drop in income, and the worries that come with that when you have a young family.
That's a longer story than you actually want to hear.
Lawyers are pretty slow to adopt technology but I had been tooling around with various tech solutions for the previous four years. I had tested all kinds of software until a found a 'suite' that did everything I needed, and for a reasonable price.
My work colleagues had started to ask me how it all worked. I had spoken about the benefits of paperless at legal conferences. I had even set up and run a few one-day workshops to teach people the skills they needed.
Those workshops and conferences taught me that people come to technology with different levels of experience, and different expectations. It proved very difficult to run a workshop that satisfied the needs of all attendees individually.
I decided to design and build a set of courses that would cater to everyone, no matter their skill level.
Yes, absolutely. It was such an obvious solution I'm surprised I didn't think of it sooner.
Online means that students can learn when it suits them, not when it suits me. It means stronger students can skip ahead through parts of the course they know already, and less strong students can watch lectures more than once if needs be. It means people can choose exactly what they want to learn, rather than having to listen to whatever it is that I want to teach.
I had a lot to learn. Powerpoint videos with voice-over (a lot of re-takes at the beginning!), screen-capture software so that I could do live demonstrations of paperless methods, and researching online platforms where I could deliver the courses.
It took weeks and weeks of work to put the courses together, and then it was time to launch.
Launching the School
I thought the hard work was done, but it wasn't.
It's one thing having a product but it's quite another thing to get that product in front of the people who might need it.
I had a lot to learn (again). Online marketing, e-mail marketing, social media marketing. Blogging, search engine optimisation, web design. Logo design, image editing, promotional video production. I could go on, but I won't.
Speaking at conferences and delivering CPD lectures was probably the most effective method of getting Paperless Academy in front of the people who needed it. In the first months we had business from Australia, Ireland, Northern Ireland, England, and the USA.
The feedback from students has been incredible and 100% positive. That in itself is reward enough for my efforts.
I'm a 44 year-old husband, father (of three), lawyer, sailor, budding kitesurfer, and technology hobbyist.
My kids take the environment very seriously and have supported me in my efforts to make paperless a more mainstream way of working (particularly in the legal field). They're young but they think I'm playing my part in saving the planet. I'm grateful for that.
I also know that going paperless is a no-brainer - the benefits are enormous and nobody will ever regret learning something new.
I hope you'll consider at least trying to make the switch. It's not as difficult as you think, and the benefits are enormous.
Thanks for visiting the site, thanks for reading this, and don't hesitate to get in touch with me for a chat.