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Training lawyers is expensive, both in terms of time and dollars. Brutal time and work pressures in the ever-changing legal marketplace cause many senior lawyers to resent being forced to pay the price. However, the advent of mandatory continuing legal education has catapulted the issue to the forefront. Like it or not, training has become part of the fabric of legal institutions. Smart legal employers will seize this opportunity and develop meaningful training paradigms to give their organizations the competitive edge. Studies indicate that effective training programs are a proven and cost-effective approach to many of the problems facing the legal profession, most notably recruiting and retention. According to the National Association for Law Placement’s Keeping the Keepers: Strategies for Associate Retention in Times of Attrition, associates indicate that “training opportunities” and “enhancing future options” join “money” and “sophistication of work” as top factors in choosing an employer. While it seems counterintuitive, firms that provide associates with the opportunity to develop skills that make it easier for them to leave create a sense of loyalty that actually encourages associates to stay. The bottom line is that training impacts the bottom line. Proper training not only mitigates poor performance, it also enables junior associates to become productive faster. Given that firms can expect to lose two-thirds of the associates they hire in any one year ( Keeping the Keepers), it is critical to get associates up to speed quickly in order to see a return on investment. Besides, associates who are properly equipped to perform their tasks decrease malpractice exposure and eliminate client dissatisfaction and write-offs. The goal of training is to change attitudes, behaviors, competencies or skills. There are a variety of techniques, resources and strategies that can and should be used to promote learning and professional development of attorneys at all levels of experience. Given the variety of learning paradigms available, even organizations with limited resources can design and implement effective attorney training programs. Limited resources are rarely the true obstacles to the development of such programs; commitment and support are! For example, employers can: � create a culture of learning by fostering mentor relationships where associates can observe and emulate successful behaviors; � take special care to link assignments to skill development. The reality is that it is easier for a partner to give an assignment to an associate who has successfully completed a similar assignment before. That, however, does not promote associate development; � encourage self-education. Associates should be encouraged to read relevant books and articles related to their practice; and � design and implement formal classroom seminars. Formal seminars can be done in a cost-effective manner by using in-house experts, on-site locations and brown-bag formats. A SEVEN-STEP PROCESS No matter what the budget is, designing programs that work is a seven-step process. 1. Determine audience needs. Before you can design a meaningful program, you must consider your target audience and the best way to reach it. Keep in mind that learning must be tied to experience. It is pointless to offer “Defending Depositions” to first-year associates if they will not be defending depositions until their third or fourth year. Identify a time line indicating when, in the course of an attorney’s career development, specific skills are needed. Remember to include substantive knowledge, oral and written communication skills, and technology training and client development skills. 2. State learning objectives. What do you want to have happen as a result of this training program? To say you “want participants to be better lawyers” is not a meaningful answer. To say you “want drafting skills to be stronger” or “knowledge of project finance to be deepened” is. 3. Select faculty. Too often, program designers focus on the presenters and what they want to talk about as opposed to what the audience needs to know. Once it is determined what the audience needs to know, select an instructor who is reliable and, when possible, entertaining, who can help you achieve the stated learning objectives. 4. Identify learning activities. Lectures are the easiest and least effective form of training. Adults learn best when they are asked to do something. It is easy to understand the concepts behind effective negotiations … . It is quite another to actually apply them in a real-world situation. Case studies, hypotheticals/analytical exercises, simulations, task-based breakout groups and role-plays should be integrated into training programs whenever possible. Training should provide people with an opportunity to test-drive new skills. 5. Prepare a timed agenda. This serves two purposes: It provides instructors with structure and prevents rambling and it gives participants some control over their time. Client demands often interfere with training seminars. If the participant can see when breaks are scheduled or which sections are less relevant to their needs, they can more effectively balance the competing demands for their time and make the most of their training experience. 6. Identify resources. To reinforce learning, written materials are critical. Provide additional sources for those interested in more in-depth information. 7. Decide if programs should be mandatory or voluntary. There are pros and cons to both approaches. Obviously, if programs are mandatory, there will always be a full house. However, it will also be filled with people resentful of being told they must be there. (Lawyers, in particular, hate to be told what to do!) If the programs are voluntary, and they are quality, people will attend. OTHER KEY CONSIDERATIONS Ensuring that the programs are quality is critical. If logistics are neglected, the program will be a flop no matter how good the content is! The devil is in the details. For example, deciding when and where the program will be held can make or break its success. If the culture at the organization is such that the day begins at 10 a.m. and the program is scheduled for 8 a.m., participation may be disappointing. It must be convenient for the participants. Keep in mind that attorneys can never be focused solely on the training seminar that they are attending. There will always be client demands and business issues which come first. When selecting training sites, make sure the location can support those demands. If it is an off-site location, make sure there is a business center, phone banks, etc. Room set-up is also an important consideration. Different room set-ups support different learning activities. For example, theatre style is effective for lectures, but impedes a training session where participants need work space to draft documents. Also, make sure the room temperature is appropriate. If participants are focused on being too hot or too cold they will not learn. Finally, remember the adage, “feed them and they will come.” Food always enhances training programs. Those responsible for associate training and development must constantly remind associates that they should not view training as a passive activity. It is important for people to take responsibility for their own professional development. With every assignment, attorneys should be thinking about what was learned and how this new knowledge or skill can be applied to new situations. Associates should be encouraged to seek out relevant programs offered by bar associations, alumni groups or other CLE providers and inquire if their employer will pay for participation in these seminars. Legal employers and associates should be clear about the benchmarks being used to measure attorney development and experience. Such guidelines should delineate skills and competencies for associates by class year, practice area, and other characteristics critical for success at a particular organization. During the evaluation process, supervisors should explain what additional training is needed and, together with the associates, create an action plan to develop those skills. Training lawyers is expensive. However, the cost of not training lawyers is a price too high for legal employers, and ultimately the profession, to pay. Kathleen Brady is manager, associate development, at Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy.

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