Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer Reinvigorates IT Training with Traveling Coaches' Springboard™ Learning Programs Consulting Services
THE CHALLENGE: Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP wanted a fresh set of eyes on its training program.
The London-based law firm, founded in 1783 and with more than 2,500 lawyers worldwide, had recently gathered employee feedback on its training. With the feedback, they identified an overall opportunity to improve the law firm’s IT training performance.
The firm wanted to explore ways to strengthen IT training in some of its U.S. offices, including discovering ideas for the latest and greatest advances in training for law firms. Ultimately, it was decided that an in-depth audit of the training with benchmarks and best practices used by world-class training organizations for comparison purposes would help the firm establish short- and long-term training goals. This audit’s results could then set a proof of concept on a global scale.
FINDING THE RIGHT PARTNER TO INNOVATE TRAINING
In the fall of 2014, Freshfields interviewed training organizations to identify the ideal partner for the project. The team spoke with several companies, but Traveling Coaches made the strongest impression.
“We held meetings with several companies and thought we had decided on one. But then we met with Traveling Coaches,” says the Regional Head for IT (US) for Freshfields. “Traveling Coaches impressed us with their level of expertise and theoretical understanding of adult learning, especially in larger, global law firms. The team offered a methodical approach to the project that emphasized training innovation over status quo. We didn’t get that same impression with the other contenders.”
Of particular interest to Freshfields was Traveling Coaches’ Springboard™ Learning Programs Consulting Services. The program addresses the struggle to deliver meaningful training to lawyers and the staff that support them. It also helps law firms inventory, benchmark and implement changes to elevate learning programs to a higher level of effectiveness and efficiency.
Freshfields was also impressed by Traveling Coaches’ drive to position training as a strategic function that tracks to the law firm’s growing practices and business goals.
TRAVELING COACHES’ SPRINGBOARD™ LEARNING PROGRAMS
CONSULTING IN ACTION
In November 2014, Freshfields and Traveling Coaches kicked off the project with a meeting that would result in a comprehensive audit, benchmark and recommendations for the law firm’s training efforts. The project would encompass several phases, including data collection and analysis, interviews, surveys and focus groups, a strategic planning and discovery session, the presentation of the report and implementation support.
The kick-off call for the project brought together stakeholders from the U.S., Germany and the UK, with a goal to explain that the project had global implications.
Data collection would provide a valuable foundation of information for the project. Traveling Coaches used multiple quantitative and qualitative methods to gather the appropriate information, including document review, observation, interviews, an employee survey and three focus groups.
Traveling Coaches conducted multiple interviews with team members and stakeholders to build an accurate picture of the organization, understand processes and challenges and identify goals.
The interviews began in concentric circles starting with IT trainers and then expanded to include C-level stakeholders and influencers in other departments such as human resources. status quo. We didn’t get that same impression with the other contenders.”
Ultimately, this information was analyzed to assess the technology training services effectiveness and efficiency.
For optimal results on the survey front, Traveling Coaches encouraged collaboration with Freshfields’ Learning and Development department.
Kathryn Rousin, Global Head of Learning and Development for Freshfields, explains, “At the same time as IT and the firm’s COO in the U.S. headed the audit efforts regarding IT training, my department was testing the appetite for eLearning across practice groups. It was helpful to get a third-party view and insight from Traveling Coaches on how to frame questions and get more value out of them. The results were much more revealing than what we would have gotten from just a quick survey on eLearning.”
In addition to the surveys, another important part of the project hinged on focus groups. The focus groups, held in New York and D.C., featured a cross mix of people to gather a range of responses - one for lawyers, one for paralegals/secretaries and one for support managers.
“The lawyer focus group was particularly fascinating, as we had never set lawyers in a room together to discuss IT training,” shares the Regional Head for IT (US) for Freshfields. “We discovered that lawyers wanted one-to-one training and didn’t want to waste time sitting through classroom-style training for a small amount of relevant information. Afterward, one lawyer from the focus group sent a long email describing all the things he’d love to learn and this was an item that helped us design training opportunities. For the other focus groups, we found that secretaries and paralegals were open to eLearning after new hire training was complete.”
Strategic Planning and Discovery Session
To cap off the project, Traveling Coaches facilitated a full day of strategic planning with several key leaders in the firm including heads from operations, HR, professional development, IT and secretarial resources. The session was the final activity prior to producing the report, with an aim to get everyone in the same room to talk about the data and industry trends.
According to Rousin, “The most valuable part of that interaction (besides the help with the audit) was getting under the skin of what the data told us. We developed a long list of things that we could do with the insight provided by that data.”
The final report, which included an audit, benchmark scoring, in-depth analysis and recommendations for improvement, was delivered to Freshfields in early 2015.
The Traveling Coaches’ report was well received at Freshfields thanks in part to the company’s careful presentation of the results to each stakeholder group. Freshfields is confident that the report will add value to the law firm.
As Rousin shares, “Traveling Coaches’ systems were helpful in terms of getting good quality data from offices in the U.S. How they interpreted it was particularly valuable as it is often difficult to generate insight such as that internally.”
After the report’s delivery, Traveling Coaches held debriefing meetings to provide additional assistance, including feedback on evaluating lawyer mentoring projects and guidance on job descriptions. The debriefings also covered additional advice on how to position and communicate the results, expand focus beyond costs and articulate business needs.
“Traveling Coaches handled our audit end-to-end with a very methodical approach. Our consultant worked closely with me to engage all key stakeholders and keep us informed of progress every step of the way. Throughout the audit, Traveling Coaches’ expertise - both in terms of academic theory and real-world practice - was clearly evident and gave us confidence that we were in good hands,” shares Regional Head for IT (US) for Freshfields. “I’m confident that this report will translate into valuable training improvements that will benefit both attorneys and staff.”