Why Isn’t L&D Happening in Law Firms?

I’ve recently attended an excellent workshop at Reed Smith on the O-shaped lawyer. In case you’re interested, this basically means a more rounded T-shaped lawyer. The T-shaped lawyer was one that had more than just technical excellence – they had breadth (see picture).

Anyway, I digress. Most of the biggest firms were represented and what really shocked me was the plea from many of the L&D specialists saying that they were struggling to get lawyers to attend their in-house training workshops.

One in-house trainer said: ‘If they give up a couple of hours, they’ll have to stay two hours later in the evening to get their chargeable hours in’.

Another said: ‘If they are not at their desk, they fear that a rival lawyer might be invited on to a prestigious matter’.

Several admitted that most partners didn’t see the value-added by associates attending training workshops.

It seems to be that this problem has got worse. Some big firms now have chargeable hour ‘targets’ of 2,000 hours. Ten-hour days and a proper use of holidays gets you a theoretical maximum of 2,250 hours at your desk. I accept that this gives little time for attending training workshops, business development, generating knowhow, supervising juniors, innovating better legal processes and all the other good things a professional firm needs.

This leads me to pose the following questions:

  • Is this law firm business model, with ever increasing chargeable hour targets, sustainable?
  • Is there anything L&D or HR functions can do differently to get more partners on side and appreciating the value from an investment in training?
  • If associates don’t attend training workshops, how else are they going to develop the skills that clients are increasingly demanding?

As ever, any thoughts on this challenge would be welcome.

This entry was posted in Coaching and Training and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s