How lawyers can master learning from a distance

How lawyers can master learning from a distance


It’s rare you’ll find an office where Learning and Development doesn’t feature heavily in the culture statement, perhaps to the point where it’s taken for granted.  The challenge is in finding the time to facilitate, promote and celebrate development to ensure engagement doesn’t dip if visibility does.  A lock down or transition to a greater level of working from home presents just these challenges.

Whilst e-learning makes Development from a Distance easily achievable, the day to day opportunities for spontaneous side by side learning, organic group discussion or the odd on the spot recommendation are less frequent and less visible.

There is a risk that employees look back on this period and feel neglected.  There is a risk that business looks back on this period and sees a missed opportunity.  Development has many faces, and not all of them are human.  An investment in development now will help employees and businesses to advance quicker in the future.


Are you leveraging the digital learning landscape?


The power of Blended Learning stems from the combination of digital interaction AND guidance from instructors and peers, it’s the best of both worlds coming together.

Knowing how to blend those two worlds to create a learning opportunity that achieves something tangible is the first common obstacle.  It is then important to formalise the activity, so teams know that this approach was a considered and deliberate choice.

According to new research by Irwin Mitchell into what in-house legal teams most need to improve to meet the challenges of 2025, respondents highlighted technology, process and succession planning as the areas of significant concern.

With that in mind, here's a few ‘Developing from a Distance’ quick win sessions that you can run with your team which might contribute to a better tomorrow.


Example Activity 1: Mastering Technology


Development can be as simple as improving the way someone uses technology, systems or process. Lockdown may well have set apart the techni-able from the tecni-struggle.    Without that helpful colleague at the next desk to show you how to use Advanced Search, some may falter. Indeed, the 2020 Bellwether showed there was a predictable age divide in approach to technology use.

How many of the systems or software packages that you and your team use include free training?  Most software companies will, as a minimum have videos or articles offering direction.  Some of the more customer-friendly companies even offer live trainer-led guidance. Can you use lockdown to set aside a small amount of time to get better and more efficient at using your technology?


Structure Suggestion:

Objective: Each person is tasked with finding a 1% improvement in the way that system is used, something that will help them work quicker or smarter. 

Activity: Ask each team member to book a training session on a system they use regularly and find a marginal gain that will make their lives easier

Follow up: Pop 45 minutes in the diary and ask each person to come prepared to share their ‘marginal gain’, so that as a team you are working towards improving efficiency, reducing risk or achieving greater levels of ROI

Measure: Consider using quantifiable metrics to help each team member recognise how they have improved efficiency, calculating minutes, per day, per week, per year often adds up to achieving a number of hours that can be compared to the value of billings earned in that time.


Example Activity 2: Shadow Board Challenge: Horizon Scanning


The Future of Jobs report from the World Economic Forum revealed the top 3 skills needed to succeed are Complex Problem Solving, Critical Thinking and Creativity. Whilst it’s likely your team regularly apply these skills when they anticipate and prepare for changes in legislation or case law, do they need to be given a platform to enable them to explore the commercial impact those changes bring about?

Facilitating a fun ‘shadow board’ discussion creates an opportunity for your team to solve a ‘board meeting conundrum’.  As ideas are discussed and debated, the team benefit from your experience as well as peer-to-peer learning and the nurturing of softer skills.

This type of activity also creates a chance to capture ideas from a diverse team.  You might just spot an opportunity to maximise on market conditions.


Structure Suggestion:

Objective: Each person is tasked with presenting a plan to respond to a ‘change’ in legislation or case law that could impact 2021 billings / workload

Activity: Send a formal calendar invite to a ‘shadow board’ meeting in 1 weeks’ time, share the discussion point and ask them to prepare a 2-minute summary of their plan.  Either leave time to discuss each plan after each presentation or ask everyone to present and then vote on the top idea and spend some additional time discussing pros and cons.

Follow up: Typically, there will always be a few quick wins that can be taken away.  It’s a great opportunity to ask someone to champion a concept or get more involved in a bigger project.

Measure: Consider using a confidence scale to help each team member recognise how they have improved their own critical thinking and creative approach; this ensures they can acknowledge the ‘learning’ and is a great way of driving self-enablement.


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About the author:

Mary is Head of Academy at LexisNexis, she is responsible for driving continuous learning across our Go To Market division to ensure development achieves demonstrable ROI. She has first-hand experience in the creation of a digital learning landscape and manages the needs of a blended learning curriculum day to day.