I am guilty. I have gone into law firms and done the 90-minute motivational business development training. I have gotten everyone in the room fired up to take action. Everyone left the room with that warm and fuzzy feeling that we all love. What happened next? The lawyers went back to their offices and saw that pesky light glowing on their phone, had to remove the papers on their chair that needed their signature, and saw the 25 new e-mails in their in-box. Forty-five minutes after my fabulous presentation, any thought that the participants had of acting on what they had learned had dissipated.

We all know the issues; lawyers are busy. Thankfully, as the economy begins to turn, many are finding that they have a lot on their plates. Further, many lawyers are compensated by the number of hours they bill, which discourages contemplating something that might not provide instant gratification. Finally, business development does not come easily to many, so it is easier to do nothing than to try something new.

So, what does a firm need to do to make the most of its training? Here are a few ideas:

  1. Train your lawyers in small groups. Many want to get the most “bang for the buck,” so they fill the room to the brim in order to maximize the impact. It seems counterintuitive to limit the number of attendees, but repeatedly, I have found that a large group, in a large conference room, provides a setting for lawyers to “hide” (bring their pre-bills to the training). Small groups of 8 to 12 provide the maximum impact. This size transforms the presentation into a conversation. Lawyers who might not have asked questions in front of an “audience” will be more engaged and willing to participate.
  2. Provide training regularly. One-off training for the purpose of motivation and inspiration is good, especially for retreats. However, one-off training generally does not lead to long-term change in behaviors. If your firm is going to spend the money on training, make sure that you are engaging in programs—not presentations. A format that builds, with each session’s building on the last, brings maximum impact.
  3. Combine training with one-on-one coaching. I believe in creating a positive return on investment through sustainable change. Every lawyer learns differently and has different strengths and weaknesses. Individual coaching between training sessions or as a follow-up to training will reap benefits far beyond what traditional training can provide. Coaching allows participants to set individual goals based on the training they have received and provides an accountability mechanism.
  4. Train your leaders first. Firms whose leaders embrace training and coaching have a huge advantage. Firm leaders who implement the recommendations given in the training set an example. Leadership requires engagement at every level. If your lawyers see their leaders engaged and participating in training, they will follow suit.

Make the most of your 2017 training dollars by providing sustainable, impactful training that will lead to positive change.

Thank you for taking the time to read this post. I hope you will share it with others. If you would like more information, please e-mail me at teahoffmann@lawstrategycorp.com.

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