Legal Technology Training: Time is a Poor Proxy for Learning

I, like
most legal professionals, cringe at memories of sitting in a large room and having someone
demonstrate the use of a technology tool. Despite my confirmed case of technophilia, I hated re-learning the basics and
had a hard time absorbing anything new. Sitting through videos was even worse. The medium trumped the message.
These memories should have stopped me from adopting the simple-minded
attitude that it was sufficient for me to bully
lawyers into training. But we all have blind spots. Training is important. Training is available. Therefore, lawyers
should go to training
. I failed to recognize that appreciating the need for training can legitimately coexist with a distaste for how training is traditionally
I still believe that lawyers need training and that
professional trainers should deliver it. But
the traditional approach to training is a bit daft.
Gather everyone in a room and talk at them for a prescribed period of
. It is a recipe for a disengagement. Some trainees will decide they
have better things to do, whether it is email, Twitter, or Candy Crush. Yet,
even the trainees intent on learning something are likely to find themselves bored
by content that is already familiar or at a loss to grasp content that is too
advanced. Monolithic training to a diverse audience with a high variance of
skill levels ends up wasting everyone’s time. Time is a poor proxy for learning. The more tailored option of
waiting for users to approach the trainer, or login into training resources, with
specific questions is just as unappealing. One of the hallmarks of the
untrained is that they don’t know
what they don’t know
. Those who labor under delusions of adequacy are
unlikely to ask the right questions, if they ask any questions at all.
My original shortsightedness meant that when I first
developed a competence-based assessment
on using common desktop software
, I only appreciated its role as a
validation mechanism. The competence-based assessment’s function was to determine whether
or not an individual had the requisite training. This verification remains of critical importance. But the earlier in the
process we assess skill level, the better the process serves everyone
Utilizing a competence-based
assessment at the front end of training allows trainees to test out of training they
do not need. Maybe they test out entirely. Fantastic. They can fly through a 12-minute test rather than endure 4 hours of
unnecessary training. Even if they don’t test out of everything, they can still
test out of that which they already know. By identifying specific deficiencies,
the trainee and trainer can allocate their efforts to the areas where
training is actually needed. A competence-based assessment on the backend will verify
the new skill acquisition and demonstrate progress against the already-established training deadline.
Competence-based assessments are more than just testing
tools. Competence-based assessment can be powerful training tools, especially
when paired with synchronous, active learning. More on that in my next post.

I use the term “traditional” to refer to training methods that are familiar,
not necessarily ubiquitous. Sit In Room/Be Talked At is my impressionistic
sense of what most lawyers think of when I recommend technology training, which
I often do. There are superior
methods long employed by many trainers in many different settings. But a large
contingent of lawyers wouldn’t know because they refuse to go.
Casey Flaherty is a lawyer, consultant, writer,
and speaker. He believes that there is a better way to deliver legal
services. Better for the clients. Better for the legal professionals. Better
for the bottom line. Casey is creator of the Legal Technology Assessment,
an integrated Basic Technology Benchmarking and training platform. Follow
Casey on
LinkedIn and on Twitter @DCaseyF.

See also:

Strategic Sourcing in Legal: The Service
Delivery Review

Deep Supplier Relationships in Legal
Law Firm Realizations
Structured Dialogue in the Law Dept/Firm

The Role of Nontraditional Stakeholders in Deepening
the Law Dept/Firm Relationship

CLE Sucks (When Training Is Terrible)

from Blogger


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