Brabners reaps rewards of technology skills improvement
North West UK corporate and commercial law firm Brabners is said to be reaping the rewards of an ambitious technology training programme, aligned to the LTC4 core competency framework. LTC4 is the Legal Technology Core Competency Certification Coalition whose mission is to set the global standard for legal technology proficiency.
Where did it begin?
A top 100 UK Law Firm, Brabners has been ranked as a Top Tier firm across 12 separate practice areas by the Legal 500. The firm has invested heavily in technology over the past few years to ensure it can offer the best service to its clients. The firm recently upgraded to Windows 8 and Office 2013, as well as implementing new systems such as iManage WorkSite for document and email management, Mimecast for email archiving and security, Microsystems DocXtools for document production and Skype for Business to improve communications.
David Griffiths (pictured), IT Director at Brabners said: “Although we provided training as part of the software upgrade programme, it quickly became clear that our employees were not utilising the new technology effectively. Old, inefficient working practices were still common. IT Helpdesk calls revealed that skill levels had not kept pace with the technological change. We knew we had a challenge on our hands to raise skill levels to take advantage of the investment we have made. We also saw this as an opportunity to increase efficiency, quality, capability and reinforce best-practices.
“The LTC4 learning plans really helped me to visualise the benefits this training programme would deliver. There’s a focus on task workflows, rather than specific applications, which makes the training practical and relevant. I was impressed by how easy it was to weave our technology and best practices into the LTC4 learning plans. The big selling point for me was the certification element – particularly the need for users to demonstrate competency. I felt it was important to set measurable standards that could be maintained long-term”.
Brabners engaged iTrain Direct, legal technology training specialists and an LTC4 Training Member, to assist with the skills development programme and deliver IT training solutions that were practical, relevant, measurable, deal with common problems and promote efficient working practices.
The LTC4 programme is part of a wider training programme, Brabners Academy, which is delivering a wide range of skills development initiatives across the business.
LTC4 learning plans establish industry-standard technical core competencies, based around realistic workflows, such as collaborating on documents or mobile working. The detailed competency frameworks identify scenarios, tasks and outcomes to assure competence.
Brabners asked iTrain Direct to help them implement three LTC4 learning plans; Working with Legal Documents, Collaborating with Others and Managing Documents & Emails. They were to be delivered to 300 members of employees across three offices.
Chris Davies, director & consultant at iTrain Direct said: “This was an ambitious programme. Brabners wanted all employees members to attend classroom training and made both training attendance and LTC4 assessment compulsory. They didn’t want to take any shortcuts, and neither did we. The three learning plans were split into six courses, involving the creation of module delivery guides, over 250 quick reference guides, 44 scenario-based training exercises, module assessments and course evaluation materials. We also knew we would have to deliver a minimum of 300 courses over a 9 month period. It has been hard work, but the outcome has been well worth it. This is the most rewarding training initiative I have been involved in during my career”.
Each of the six training courses were designed to be very hands on, closely following the scenarios documented in each LTC4 learning plan. Users were asked to perform a series of tasks that worked towards meaningful goals. The trainer would promote best-practice methods, introduce new technology and reinforce existing skills in a way that made sense to participants. The trainers were keen to include users in discussions to encourage participation, ownership and collaboration. There’s a real emphasis on allowing users to explore technology, wrestle with problems and work together to find solutions.
This hands-on, scenario-focussed training approach also made the assessment process a little easier, as the unassisted assessments were designed in the same format. Although the LTC4 competency standards for secretarial/support employees are higher than that of fee earners, all members of employees were trained to the same standards. This allowed team members to attend together, discuss working practices and share ideas.
Reactions, Results & Feedback
There were some initial concerns over how people would react to attending compulsory training, and being asked to complete an unassisted assessment at the end of each course. The reaction during training was extremely positive, and this was backed-up by the formal course evaluations that people undertook. iTrain Direct felt it was important that course evaluations should be completed anonymously, so users would feel free to provide honest and constructive feedback.
Users consistently said that the training was relevant, practical and has increased their confidence using technology.
Although not everyone enjoys the assessments, they recognise their importance and feel a real sense of achievement when they successfully complete an assessment.
Although learner feedback has been excellent, the real measurement of success would be the impact on the business. There are already some positive signs emerging:
- Fee Earners have reported increased confidence when working on documents, resulting in improved document drafting times and document quality.
- Email filing in iManage WorkSite has increased by 5.4% since training began.
- IT Helpdesk calls have reduced by 10.4%.
- There was a real focus in training on improving working practice relating to email filing, scanning and working with PDF’s, resulting in a 11.2% reduction in print volumes.
- Several departments have asked for additional training to assist with the process of fully cleaning and restyling precedents. They now understand the importance of formal document styling.
- Training requests have increased, both on topics outside and inside of the LTC4 programme. People are increasingly taking ownership of their own development.
The current LTC4 course curriculum is just the beginning of the technical skills development journey at Brabners. The firm has just launched a full IT training curriculum and is already planning on implementing two further LTC4 learning plans; Mobile Working and Security.