Do you have a learning culture in your law firm?
The Law Society Gazette reports that the SRA conducted a survey of 500 firms which showed how well they were embracing the revised approach to continuing professional development to remain competent.
Around half of firms surveyed said that levels of learning and development have remained unchanged, while 40% said they had increased support. Just 9% of firms were prepared to admit to their regulator they had reduced training and development. What these statistics do not identify is what actions are law firms taking to find out what people actually need to learn nor what behaviours might need to be addressed.
At the recent Learning and Technology Summer Forum, Towards Maturity (a highly respected provider of evidence about the effective implementation of learning innovation in the workplace) identified in their 2019 report that only 12% of businesses are actually finding out what people need. It would be interesting if Towards Maturity was engaged by the SRA to undertake a meaningful piece of research about the legal sector.
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The fact that the level of learning and development remains the same or has increased in the legal sector is encouraging, but only if it is being targeted where it is needed. Evidence is needed to make informed decisions about investment in learning – ones that sustain the impact sought.
According to Towards Maturity, people are spending their own money and their own time to learn what they want to learn. After all we live in the age of Google and people lacking information simply ‘google it’.
Self-determined learning is the new trend. Apparently, 68% of learners say they would pick up skills faster if they had more direct control over the pace of work-based learning. Strangely, if a firm’s resources were targeted better to the people who needed it you could, as a firm, perhaps achieve more with less money.
I obtained an MBA in Legal Practice Management back in 1998 and my thesis was on how to obtain competitive advantage through training. I know training is not the same as learning and development but it reflects that cultural shift in a firm is often needed to move the firm forward with the times and this is often achieved through learning and development initiatives.
The key performance indicators for most firms will be around the main pillars of success:
All of these pillars can be improved by some learning and development intervention. Increasingly, people prefer to learn as part of their work and be able to collaborate with others to develop. Those of you responsible for managing the learning and development in a law firm should consider focusing on enabling these things to happen.
Have you thought of targeting your resources to move from face-to-face training to a better blend using the experience of colleagues, supporting workplace performance and underpinning work by collating useful data which is accessible to learners when needed?
As part of reviewing how your firm directs its learning and development resources why not consider giving access to LawSkills Monthly Digest to those practitioners in private client practice. Ask us for more information about a firm wide licence.
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