I briefly mentioned the woeful numbers when it comes to actually measuring the technical skills of law firm staff when I posted the link to the 2008 ILTA User Support survey.
Tonight, I’d like to dig into those thoughts a bit further. First, let’s look at the top answers of some of the relevant questions to this post:
- Does your firm conduct skills assessment? 65% -No
- If your firm does skills assessment, who do you test? 59% -Prospective Staff
- Does your firm have any ongoing technical training requirements for attorneys? 87% – No
- Does your firm have any ongoing technical requirements for staff? 67% -No
- What incentives are offered at your firm to support training? 52% -Food at sessions
- Does your firm have an official budget for your training department? 62% -No
So, let’s take those numbers and create a typical law firm staffer.
When you were hired, there’s a less than 50% chance that anyone actually bothered to test your technical skills, other than looking at your resume, but there’s a chance that someone would have, so let’s suppose you do actually have all the requisite skills for your job, currently. Over the years, as technology changes at a great pace, you’ll be given the opportunity to take some classes, mostly as part of large roll outs of new tools. There will be other opportunities for training, but no actual budget for it, and no one will be tracking whether you go to training or not. In fact, your skills will never actually be tested again, no matter how long you work with the firm. So long as you can continue to do the important stuff, you’ll be fine. If, however, you decide you’d like to learn more about taking advantage of technology, and be more efficient through using it, you’ll be richly rewarded, with a pastry.
Of course this is all different for the young associate attorney. For you, not only is your reward a lovely pastry, but you also get the lost hours of billable time that you’ll need to make up, and, if you really learn a lot, you’ll also be treated to missed billable hour minimums because your efficient use of technology allowed you to get work done quicker, and left you scrounging around for more work to make up your hours!
Which leads me to my last number:
- What are the biggest challenges facing training and user support efforts? 73% -Lawyer Participation
Next, some ideas on correcting this problem. In the meantime, I’d love to hear yours!