UpSkilling. ReSkilling. SideSkilling. ReLearning. ReEngaging. JumpSkilling. Enhanced-Skilling. Advanced-Skilling. SmartSkilling.
These are some fancy words that all suggest we should be continuous learners, whether to change our careers, advance our careers, or (not to be casually overlooked) keep up with our careers.
In the legal industry, where technology is changing the way we work nearly as rapidly as in the medical field, law firms are constantly tempted to buy the new bling, the new tool, the latest-and-greatest work hack to “make life easier” or to “work more efficiently.”
But I would suggest to you that many law firms aren’t even using their most fundamental tech-tools to their maximum capacity, representing not only a loss in ROI on those tools but also losses in work capacity and, hence, the bottom line.
What are these fundamental tech tools? Dare I say something as commonplace as Word and Excel? (Did you think I’d mention a newfangled document management system or e-filing toy?) Truly, if your legal assistants AND lawyers don’t know how to use the most basic work tools at their disposal, then you are losing time and money at the very heart of your firm’s work production cycle.
Garbage In / Garbage Out
Additionally, if there are attorneys, legal assistants or even entire legal departments at your firm not utilizing these fundamental tools properly, then it doesn’t matter how many other fancy tools you’ve got because the documents they create, store, file and share in those fancy tools will be sub-par.
As the old saying goes: Garbage in / Garbage out.
This brings me back to the concept of UpSkilling or ReSkilling or whichever fancy term you’d like to use. You can vastly improve your firm’s work efficiency and product by training your employees to effectively use the tools you’ve already got!
Achieving Competency in Fundamental Skills
So, what are the systems that everyone in your firm should master? At Savvy Training & Consulting, we’ve put together this checklist:
- Microsoft Word
- Microsoft Outlook
- Microsoft Excel
- Microsoft PowerPoint
- Phone System
- PDF Software
- Time & Billing System
- Document Management System
- Internal Instant Messaging System
This list represents the absolute basic systems that everyone in your firm needs to master in order to move work faster. Now, ask yourself this: What percentage of people in your firm are adept at every single one of those systems? Think of that specific person (or people) whom you know are slowing down your work machine… I bet it’s because he or she doesn’t know how to properly use one or more of these fundamental tools.
Drilling down deeper, here are the skills that we recommend all lawyers and legal assistants master in Word:
- Apply and modify styles
- Automatically number paragraphs or add line numbers
- Clear document metadata
- Create and update a table of contents and table of authorities
- Insert and fix footers
- Insert and delete comments
- Insert and update cross-references
- Insert hyperlinks
- Insert non-breaking spaces
- Insert page breaks
- Insert section and paragraph symbols
- Use headings for navigation and accessibility
What percentage of your legal team is adept at every single one of those skills? I bet the percentage is small. Now, imagine the documents created by those who don’t know many of those skills. Are you paying someone to clean them up? Or are your clients struggling to wade through the mistakes and manual errors and missing links? What is the cost to your firm?
Follow A Clear Path to Knowledge Acquisition
I’ve just shared a single list for mastering Word. Imagine coming up with learning lists for all of the other tools your firm must master (Excel, PowerPoint, etc.). Luckily, you don’t have to because there are some very smart people and organizations creating those lists for you. Let’s take a look at two of them:
- Legal Technology Assessment (LTA): The LTA establishes how fluent legal professionals are with the core technology tools of their trade: Word, Excel, and PDF. The LTA is both a benchmarked assessment and a training platform. Benchmarked results can be used for marketing, professional development, team assembly, onboarding, rate negotiation, invoice review, provider differentiation, etc. Primarily, however, results should be used to ensure that legal professionals are getting the training they need.
- Legal Technology Core Competencies Certification Coalition (LTC4): As a non-profit organization, LTC4 has established legal technology core competencies and certification that all law firms can use to measure ongoing efficiency improvements. The coalition has developed two distinct certification paths – one for attorneys and another for staff – that benefit all law firms by having a commonly recognized industry standard for each audience. When a firm can prove that its attorneys and staff are certified in a set of industry standard, law-firm-approved core competencies, clients are assured that their chosen law firm has the most suitable skill set for handling their complex matters dependably and professionally.
(Of course, Savvy’s learning content, SavvySMART, is mapped to both of these certification programs and is easily delivered to your learners through the SavvyAcademy LMS, so our clients have almost everything they need to achieve competency at their fingertips. But I digress…)
If you know that your firm’s fundamental skills are lacking but don’t know how to take the first steps toward competency, contact me. I’ve helped many firms assess their employees’ existing knowledge base and create customized learning paths that lead to competency. Jay@SavvyTraining.com, 303-800-4568.