Transforming Trainers into Strategic Assets – The Certified Legal Trainer Program from Traveling Coaches
Stories and results from the program as shared by trainers and management from Kelley Drye & Warren LLP and Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton LLP.
According to a survey by the International Legal Technology Association, law firms spend on average 2-4% of their total annual revenue on technology. Considering that the income for AmLaw 100 firms can range from $300 million to more than $1 billion dollars, budgets could stretch anywhere from $600,000 to $40 million.
With investments of this magnitude, the firm’s technology trainers must ensure their learning initiatives support the firm’s overall goals and technology strategy. Although scarce at many firms, technology training, when properly planned and executed, is the essential ingredient for maximum return on the firm’s technology investments.
Sadly, many firms settle for an uninspired, old-school delivery of facts and features to an ever dwindling audience and completely miss the opportunity to reap huge dividends from their training programs.
The Only Certification of Its Kind in Legal
To satisfy the demand of trainers looking for new and effective ways to educate 21st century lawyers, Traveling Coaches developed a program of cutting-edge learning theories and consensus best practices specifically tailored for law firms. The program’s purpose is to elevate learning until it becomes a strategic asset that delivers measurable improvements in performance and customer service.
Called the Certified Legal Trainer Program, it features a six-week blended learning experience that enhances trainers’ skills by discovering business needs, architecting diverse learning experiences and maximizing valuable outcomes. However, not all who are called are chosen.
“Traveling Coaches was very clear that attendance alone is not sufficient to receive the certification. You have to do the work,” comments Leslie Koons, Software Trainer for Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton LLP. “That spurred me on.”
Unlike the training provided by huge, industry agnostic organizations like Association for Talent Development (ATD), Traveling Coaches’ program is filtered for relevance and applicability within law firms. Over two decades of experience working exclusively in legal have made Traveling Coaches experts on best practices for adult learning in this very unique industry.
“A lot of the time, our training is based on common sense or what seems to be the best approach. The certification validates what we are doing and introduces alternative methods,” explains Devin Bridgford, Lead Software Trainer for Sheppard Mullin.
As Judi Flournoy, CIO of Kelley Drye & Warren LLP, expresses it: “We hoped the certification program would identify a different way to frame the conversation and encourage people to learn even more. Traveling Coaches delivered that.”
A Program that Embraces Best Practices
The program’s effectiveness hinges on a proprietary learning model developed by Traveling Coaches and unique to legal technology trainers. Students not only learn about but also have the opportunities to experience a program that combines social and asynchronous learning as well as virtual and in-person classroom formats.
“The flexibility of being online the first five weeks was helpful,” says TaShika Lewis, Manager of User Education for Kelley Drye. “I was able to share ideas with fellow attendees and post my assignments from my PC or my iPad. Then we all went to Dallas for the final week, and participated in exercises and group discussions to put into practice the things we had learned.”
“The most intriguing portion of the training for me was when we discussed return on investment. What is the value of a particular training initiative to the firm? How do I calculate ROI and have that conversation with stakeholders? When you start talking dollars and cents, you have everyone’s attention,” says Bridgford.
The Certified Legal Trainer Program is creating opportunities for the attendees to connect with their training peers.
“It is tough to get to know people in the legal training community, but there was a wide variety of experience in my group and everyone brought a lot to the table,” explains Bridgford.
“Peer connection has continued beyond the program,” says Lewis. “We have an online group that I check into and those colleagues have turned into great friends. Many of us are working on rollout projects and we share feedback on different training approaches.”
Transforming Training into Strategic Endeavors
Each of the certified legal trainers share their new training theories and ideas to create a maximum impact in their law firm.
“I returned from the certification program a brand new person with innovative approaches to training,” explains Lewis. “I’m more focused on the firm’s goals. ROI is crucial to me. I now create training and performance goals properly aligned with dollars, return and measurement instead of just saying ‘I have a class for that.’ I’m following up with people and with practice groups to make sure we’re helping them meet their quarterly and annual goals. I’m checking in to see if attorneys are increasing productivity and working in an efficient manner.”
The strategic approach creates favorable responses with decision makers.
“It was eye-opening the ways in which we were able to change dialogues with decisions makers simply by identifying business purposes and using them as selling points,” shares Koons. “We now have the ability to more efficiently use adult learning theories as well as bottom-line business sense to impact results.”
New Approaches to Training
Thanks to the program, trainers are adopting alternative training methods and cultivating acceptance for it in their law firms.
“After my certification, I went back and fine-tuned what we had and developed a strategic way to train that included more deskside coaching and eLearning,” comments Lewis. “I look at help desk calls and identify trends. I can see if certain questions are constantly asked, which gives me an idea where learning is needed.”
“We developed 15-minute micro classes during the beginning of our CLTP experience,” comments Koons. “Traveling Coaches, along with our group members, gave us advice and feedback. We’ve gotten a very good response from attorneys and have more attorney attendance at staff-based workshops. Lawyers are getting tech tips and information they wouldn’t have been exposed to before.”
Bridgford adds: “We’re dealing a lot more directly with senior management and partner initiatives because of the reputation we’re garnering.”
Each of the trainers endorse the value of the program.
“The Certified Legal Trainer Program gives you a commonality of language and expectations for shared expertise. If Devin creates a class, I can step in and teach it because I understand how he creates and delivers it,” comments Koons.
“We’re pushing to get other trainers to go,” says Bridgford. “I think we should send all trainers at some point. It’s very beneficial.”
“I would highly recommend this course to any trainers – whether seasoned or brand new,” says Lewis.
Learn more about the Certified Legal Trainer Program from Traveling Coaches by visiting www.TravelingCoaches.com.
Judi Flournoy, CIO of Kelley Drye & Warren LLP, describes the impact of the Traveling Coaches Certified Legal Trainer Program.
One of the things the program speaks to in a way that nothing else has previously is that most trainers in law firms did not start out as educators. The Certified Legal Trainer Program helps trainers define their role as an educator. It illustrates best practices, tools, effective approaches and communications. That was a significant driver in my support for it.
In 2015, our new managing partner had a focus on education and wanted more opportunities for attorneys and staff to learn core competencies and skills needed now and in the future to execute their responsibilities. Raising the level of education made what TaShika brought back especially valuable.
I see an increase in value since TaShika completed her certification. Attorneys and staff see even more value in her work. We have a very different feedback loop when compared to what previously existed.
Curt Montague, Manager of Technology Services for Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton LLP, weighs in on the value of the Certified Legal Trainer Program.
This certification program makes sense. It’s a good investment.
I sent two self-motivated and talented trainers that hadn’t had formal training in learning and development. I wanted to give them more exposure to theories and concepts and leverage this as a professional development opportunity.
Devin and Leslie were fired up when they returned from the CLTP. We’re now pursuing training with a more strategic focus using the theories and concepts they brought back to the firm.
Much of our training used to be “Hey, let’s show someone how to use this feature.” It’s now a learning experience. We’ll do a class around workflow - why you want to use technology to support it and what’s the realized value. We’re not offering a class on how to use PowerPoint. We teach how to build a dynamic and effective presentation for the courtroom and another for the boardroom.
One of our post program sessions garnered amazing feedback. A partner said it was the best training class he ever attended. It’s rare that a lawyer offers such praise for a simple training class.