Yesterday, I blogged about The Why and What of Client Development Training for Associates. If you did not get a chance to read it because the LexBlog server was down, please take a look now.

When I speak to senior lawyers, sometimes I have to make the business case for training associates. If you are a law firm leader or involved with professional development, one book you may want to read is  The Six Disciplines of Breakthrough Learning: How to Turn Training and Development Into Business Results by Calhoun Wick, Roy Pollock, Andrew Jefferson and Richard Flanagan. I believe there are several points in the book you should consider. Here is my list:

  1. The question frequently asked is "What if we train our employees (lawyers) and they leave?" To which noted leadership consultant and author Mark Sanborn replies: "What if we don’t and they stay?"
  2. While training initiatives traditionally have focused on what takes place in the classroom, what goes on before and after the actual training itself can be equally-if not more-important. I believe it is important to prepare your lawyers for a training program and also important to follow up and make sure they are implementing what they are learning.
  3. Ultimately every program must produce a positive financial return, directly or indirectly. "Programs that help participants improve personal performance pay dividends in greater job satisfaction, motivation and retention.”
  4. Learning activities must stimulate the kind of thinking and actions that are required on the job. Participants must be given the opportunity to practice their skills. To make connections between actions and learning the authors suggest allowing participants time to practice their new knowledge, reflect on lessons learned, and write down how they intend to apply their new knowledge. 
  5. The real work begins when the course ends. Learning creates value only if it is transferred and applied in the participant’s work. Instead of the last agenda item being "Program Ends" it should be "Begin Transfer and Application." Just imagine if your practice group leaders followed up to make sure participants are actually applying what they have learned. 
I think these are all great ideas that any law firm can implement.