Sorry about my alarming headline, but I thought it was the perfect analogy for a topic I want to discuss today. If you’re a parent, you have likely experienced this terrifying moment: You and your spouse look at each other and realize that you both assumed the other one was in charge of the kid(s). A mad scramble ensues and, hopefully, your cherub is playing happily in the backyard.
I honestly think this is very similar to what happens in law firms that need to train attorneys and staff to use new technologies: No one wants to be responsible for demanding that attorneys advance their skills. So, no one talks about it and no one takes responsibility.
And when attorneys refuse to learn, their secretaries will do the same.
Thank you to Pinhawk’s Legal Administrator Daily for publishing truth recently on this very topic:
“Last week was a busy week of on-site work with a client implementing a new technology. The new technology involves new decisions about handling paper documents. I came away with this observation: without visible support from attorneys about a change in process, secretaries will aggressively assert the old process and prevent change.
“I suppose it’s obvious that secretaries know how attorneys like work to be performed and will abide by those preferences to the bitter end… unless there is high-level support from management. But that support is more than a message to the staff that ‘we’re behind this change 100%.’ Rather – support needs to be in the form of directives to the attorneys involved, that things are different now. There are new processes being implemented. Get on the bus or go home.
“The notion that directives for change can work from the bottom-up is simply false. Secretaries wield great power. And they’ll use their attorneys as an excuse not to change.”
As I’ve said in the past, if upper management doesn’t throw its weight behind training, the effort will fail. And that “weight” must include spoken and systematized expectations of attorneys and secretaries.
Why Are Attorneys Allowed to Let Their Skills Lapse?
Why is there a pervasive attitude that no one can make attorneys change? Why are attorneys somehow untouchable (above the law, if you will)? Excuses are made and insulations put into place for them to avoid training and learning. Who is the big loser in this situation? Your firm’s clients. And trust me, in the long-run, your firm will lose, too.
If you want your firm to have any hope of surviving this tech-critical legal age, training must be driven by management (or progressive, open-minded attorneys). Otherwise, you may end up saying, “I thought YOU told the attorneys they had to learn! I thought YOU did!” Someone simply has to take responsibility and make them accountable.
Have you found a way to engage attorneys and secretaries in your training programs? I would love to hear your tactics. Contact me today: Jay@SavvyTraining.com, 303-800-4568.