Book review: “Legal Training Handbook” by Melissa Hardee
Published by The Law Society – ISBN 978-1-907698-84-2
This book aims to address the question “how will the future providers of legal services be trained?”, which tells you it is not simply a Law Society book about solicitor training but rather about the broader legal profession.
The author, Melissa Hardee, addresses the issues at a time of change in legal education so unsurprisingly it is a book of over 480 pages, divided into five distinct sections:
- Managing training in the business
- Qualification as a solicitor in England & Wales
- Other qualified lawyer qualification requirements
- Meeting training needs within the business
- Delivering the training programme
It is clearly not a book about the rules of training regulation but rather a comprehensive guide to managing the training function in organisations providing legal services.
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Structure & Layout
Within the five main parts of the book are numerous chapters which are clearly signposted with many sub-divisions for ease of both reading and finding relevant topics. These are labelled at the start of each chapter. For example, in Chapter 2 on the Structure and ownership of training within a firm there is a useful short section on Interaction of training and knowledge management.
The layout is traditional with plenty of lists, bullet points and tables. Lawyers like to be able to skim read large amounts of text and to action tasks. Bulleted lists are a great way to draw the eye and direct people to the key points.
Part E provides a series of ‘How to’ chapters:
- How to design training
- How to deliver training
- How to organises and run training
- How to evaluate training
A firm whose goal is to deliver effective training will find much to help them look at training delivery in a different way rather than just lectures. This text provides various tools to implement solutions to fulfil the goal of effective training.
Fortunately, this useful section is not written solely with the professional trainer in mind, but provides a layman’s synopsis of the key points to encourage lawyers themselves to get involved in training delivery.
Clarity & readability
“In fact, the most effective way to train and develop lawyers is through on the job training. Wherever possible, this is the best way for lawyers to learn.”
This statement is clear and leads on to an explanation of the current learning and development favourite model 70:20:10. The statement is sufficient for lawyers not interested in the jargon of learning and development but proper supporting evidence is there to substantiate the claim and to assist those in delivering training to legal organisations who may not be lawyers.
Something I learnt a long time ago, when delivering learning: use examples as close to the experience at work as possible to aid understanding and hopefully to embed learning for use back in the office.
Relevance to practitioners
Those partners who are responsible for managing the business may have a colleague earmarked for managing the training function and budget but both people should understand the important synergy required between learning and development and the firm’s strategic goals. Achieving those goals will inevitably require the case for training to be accepted; agreement reached over the amount of investment required to deliver business goals; and developing the right culture in the firm – Part A is tailor made for these debates.
Individual lawyers may wish to check their own personal career development and their need to observe education and training requirements. Most career progressions can be found in Parts B & C.
The team leader responsible for coaching and mentoring their team members to achieve their full potential will find the tools in Part E helpful.
Anyone responsible for the oversight of the training function will find this handbook useful in helping their colleagues identify and support training in the most effective way possible for that organisation. You can’t ask for more than that!
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