Last week, I presented the following tips on getting better bang for your legal learning resources (time and money) to a group of Vancouver professionals responsible for the professional development of private or public sector lawyers.
1. Build networking into every session. Getting lawyers together in a room is a great opportunity for them. Help people connect about who and what is new, and what they do. Warm them up, break the ice, arrange conversations, seek commitments about who they will contact again after the session.
2. Embrace the pilot. A test run of any program is a great way to: (i) get a new idea across the line; (ii) encourage lawyers to offer ideas and feedback; (iii) create goodwill during bumpy moments; (iv) demonstrate care; and (v) build credibility.
3. Use practice group CLE as soft skills boot camp. They’re getting an update on court rules. Meanwhile, a lawyer is learning to plan a presentation, deliver a presentation, handle difficult questions, and receive and act on feedback (that others have been reminded how to give).
4. Let people learn from one another. In so many ways, the answers almost always lie within the room. Help people uncover them through stories and discussion.
5. Make it easy for your senior lawyers to get involved. Release them (and participants) from a PowerPoint slide pack. For workshops, give elders questions to answer or scenarios to speak to. Ask them to review writing, give feedback on a CLE, have coffee with someone.
6. Face your mentoring demons. Everyone has them. Acknowledge what is and isn’t working, scale back if you need to, make small changes.
7. Reduce, reuse, recycle. When money and/or time is tight, don’t be afraid to dust off, surf for, or otherwise patch together the tried and true.
8. Consider small group learning. Is there a sweet spot between full-blown workshops and one-on-one coaching? A pod of 3-4 people with similar learning needs can be powerful.
9. Embrace your inner car salesperson. Do what you must to speak passionately about what you are doing, hope to do, are trying to do to make a difference to your lawyers.
10. Get good feedback, and act on it. The best feedback comes from asking honest, specific questions. Shelve the happy sheets and ask one or two. Act on the feedback. Repeat.
I plan to expand on each tip in future posts. Do you have any to add to the list?