By Joanne Humber, LTC4 Marketing Consultant
DLA Piper’s vision is to be the leading global business law firm. One of the key elements to the firm’s achieving this goal is to equip the firm’s lawyers with the best technology, and ensure they know how to use it for optimal benefit. Research has shown that the more time attorneys spend using technology, the more their efficiency, quality of work, and productivity increases. In some cases, today’s clients demand proof of technical competency from their firms, so DLA Piper wanted to make sure it could objectively prove its lawyers’ aptitude. Based on these factors, DLA Piper’s Executive and IT departments collaboratively set a goal to make sure the firm’s lawyers were confident using the technology it provided.
First, DLA Piper established a requirement for everyone in the firm, including lawyers, to be competent using the core technology. Technology-wise, the firm’s support staff already had a reasonably high skill level to perform their work. Therefore, assessing lawyers’ technical knowledge was prioritized since their understanding the capability of technology was crucial, even if they weren’t performing the tasks themselves.
The firm’s IT department searched for credible external standards to benchmark its basic curriculum against. DLA Piper’s U.S. IT training colleagues were already engaged with a non-profit organization called LTC4 and had collaborated on the creation of a Primary LTC4 module called Working with Legal Documents. This early connection between DLA Piper and LTC4 provided the firm with affinity for LTC4 process and standards. The organizations definitely shared the same mindset, so DLA Piper chose to use LTC4’s core competency standards.
According to Neill Morley, DLA Piper’s Head of IT Learning: “Since DLA Piper wanted its lawyers to become more productive and aware of technology, LTC4’s core competencies and assessments provided an ideal way to measure our lawyers’ technology knowledge – showing the skill level they currently had, and telling us where they needed to go. We performed assessments individually and created custom learning plans to fill the knowledge gaps. We were confident this technology learning initiative would lead to more satisfied clients, longer-lasting client relationships, and increased profitability through efficiency.”
Once the firm’s IT department agreed that using LTC4 curriculum to benchmark lawyers’ technical knowledge across the firm and to up-skill (provide additional/advanced training) where required, DLA Piper’s CIO introduced the idea to its CEO who was most supportive. A few months later, the firm’s International Managing Partner agreed and the LTC4 initiative became a full-fledged IT project with an assigned project manager. DLA Piper purchased LTC4’s learning plans including Working with Legal Documents, Mobile Working and Collaborating with Others.
The LTC4 modules would support a number of DLA Piper’s new IT initiatives. The firm’s new Lync communications system, global conferences and file management would all be covered by the LTC4 learning plans. Also, the firm’s international offices expansion was impacting both Document Production and billing, which would also be addressed by LTC4’s scenario-based assessments.
Morley explained: “DLA Piper has already deployed the Working with Legal Documents module because lawyers’ use of the firm’s Document Production team was being encouraged and promoted. It made sense to improve lawyers’ document knowledge, thereby increasing the quality of their requests to the Document Production team and improving overall efficiency. DLA Piper’s Document Production department was very supportive of our ‘up-skilling’ lawyers. LTC4’s Legal Documents module standard helped lawyers build their document technology skills. The firm is currently delivering the Legal Document module in one to one up-skilling/assessment sessions.”
The next LTC4 module DLA Piper deploys will be Mobile Working. The Mobile Working assessment will likely be delivered as a questionnaire to individuals that have recently had learning in this area, followed up with one to one visits where required.
Collaborating with Others will be the third LTC4 module the firm plans to deliver. It will help the firm to assimilate another major change the firm made: replacing lawyers’ desk phones with Lync technology on PCs and headsets. This will present a perfect opportunity to assess and improve individual skills in mobile working and collaborating with others.
Morley says the firm was able to gain substantial cooperation and buy-in from user participants for the LTC4 program. He notes: “We used the excellent relationships our trainers and other onsite IT staff already have with individuals across the firm. We set our own standards very high and personalized the first LTC4 module (Legal Documents) by delivering one to one sessions, and up-skilling and assessing during each session. We also created recordings for every skill required for Legal Documents. Eventually, we aim to do this for all modules. We received excellent feedback on the quality, delivery and effectiveness for the sessions and are using this to promote the rest of the curriculum.”
LTC4 is dedicated to measuring success and so was DLA Piper. For the Legal Documents module, the firm was measuring people (one to one) on each individual skill, noting where learning was required. If further learning was required, the trainer delivered accordingly by suggesting an additional training session, or sending a knowledge base article or recording.
DLA Piper currently has over 1400 lawyers certified in Legal Documents (40% of our lawyers in International) with a 95% Pass rate. 10% of the 95% passed with the help of up-skilling training delivered during their one to one sessions.
DLA Piper has many plans for using LTC4 in the future. Morley explains: “DLA Piper plans to continue its relationship with LTC4 to deliver ongoing learning. The firm’s 2-year goal is to complete all assessments and have recertification assessments in place. We have always been aware of lawyers’ varied learning styles, so our plan is to offer a blend of options for lawyers including one to one, e-learning, recorded training sessions, webinars, and knowledge base articles. LTC4 doesn’t accept a simple Q&A method of assessment – they are scenario/workflow-based rather than feature-based. To meet the LTC4 standard, we are developing our questionnaires to be more sophisticated with multiple choice formats. We also plan to assess as part of our new employee orientation process and create individual learning plans for everyone. Every change to the technology we provide will affect the curriculum.”
DLA Piper’s overall experience with the LTC4 program has been very positive, both from the perspective of management stakeholders and the lawyers participating in the learning plans and assessments. Return on Investment (ROI) has not been directly measured but due to the personalized delivery, the trainers are reporting an immediate impact and very quick ROI. Users have provided fantastic feedback from the one to one sessions for Legal Documents. An initial survey showed 100% satisfaction from all who responded. Morley commented: “Overall, we are extremely happy with the quality of learning we have provided with the assistance of LTC4 and we have made great strides toward achieving the firm’s goal of having all lawyers be confident and competent with our technology. We look forward to continuing our relationship with LTC4 in the future.”
About the Author
Joanne Humber has been an active member of LTC4 since it began and was responsible for establishing the UK Steering Group. She spent more than 20 years delivering legal IT training for firms of all sizes across the world. As Head of Training for Phoenix Business Solutions she was responsible for developing training programs for clients and encouraging better user adoption of technology. She is now working to build further awareness of LTC4 as the global benchmark for law firms.