The video site TalksOnLaw describes itself as on a mission to help everyone better understand the law. To that end, yesterday it launched a new feature, TOL Briefs, which are short videos of five minutes or less designed to explain legal issues to the public.

The site, which launched about a year ago, already provides lawyer CLE videos as well as a series of TOL Talks — 30-minute interviews with leading lawyers about a variety of topics, from the Internet of Things to ownership of sperm.

The site’s founder and CEO, Joel Cohen, is a former Skadden Arps lawyer who was inspired by podcasts and TED Talks to create something for lawyers that would be informative and entertaining. He added the CLE component as a way of turning his idea into a business.

The CLE programs are distinctive from typical CLE fare in that they are presented in a talk-show format, with the host interviewing the lawyer or lawyers on the program’s topic. Charitably, there are no talking heads or PowerPoints.

The Briefs feature launched yesterday grew out of Cohen’s desire to expand the site’s audience beyond lawyers to the public at large. He conceives of the site as becoming like a WebMD for law, but using video.

Each Brief features a single lawyer discussing a topic of law. For lawyers, this presents a marketing opportunity for them to share their own videos and highlight their expertise in their particular areas of law, Cohen told me during an interview yesterday.

“This is the perfect place to get your content out there and show your expertise, whether for lead gen or to show off to your existing clients,” Cohen says.

There is no cost to lawyers to post their own videos as TOL Briefs, but the does does provide guidelines on producing the videos and reserves the right to reject videos for any reason.

Examples of these Briefs include:

All of the content on the site is free to view, including the CLE content. However, users who want CLE credit must pay, either $25 per course or $399 for one-year unlimited access.

Programs currently are accredited in Arizona, California, Illinois and New York. By the end of the year, the site plans to add accreditation for Maryland, Pennsylvania, Texas and Virginia, and then eventually add every state.

The site also offers post-production services for a fee for lawyers who want help finalizing their videos. But Cohen said he is moving away from offering that service in order to focus full attention on the platform and the content.

“Right now our focus is on getting cool content and building out a valuable resource that non-lawyers can trust more than a YouTube video,” Cohen says.

“We want to be a clearinghouse for lawyers to connect with a public that we see as having a huge lack of understanding about the law.”

Photo of Bob Ambrogi Bob Ambrogi

Bob is a lawyer, veteran legal journalist, and award-winning blogger and podcaster. In 2011, he was named to the inaugural Fastcase 50, honoring “the law’s smartest, most courageous innovators, techies, visionaries and leaders.” Earlier in his career, he was editor-in-chief of several legal publications, including The National Law Journal, and editorial director of ALM’s Litigation Services Division.