Law Practice Management Asked and Answered Blog

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August 2003

Aug 31, 2003


Law Firm Training and Use of Technology

Question:

We recently implemented a new computer system and spent a lot of money on initial software training. However, our attorneys and staff must have forgotten everything they learned. It seems that they are only using a fraction of the software’s capabilities.

Response:

Training and skill development is not easy. Studies reveal that 90 percent of the people who attend seminars and training sessions see no improvement because they don’t take the time to implement what they learn. Practices create habits and habits determine your future. Up to 90 percent of our normal behavior is based on habits. The key to skill learning is to get the new skill to become a habit. Once the new habit is well developed it becomes your new normal behavior. This requires practice. Unfortunately, law firms do not give employees time to practice and experiment.

Research on memory and retention shows that upon completion of a training session, there is a precipitous drop in retention during the first few hours after exposure to the new information. We forget more than 60 percent of the information in less than nine hours. After seven days only 10 percent of the material is retained. Most memory loss occurs very rapidly after learning new information. Your employees can improve their memories by:

  • Engaging in rehearsal/practice.
  • Scheduling distributed practice.
  • Minimizing interference.
  • Engaging in deep mental processing.
  • Emphasizing transfer.
  • Organizing information.

    Skills become automated through practice. The more we perform a set of actions, the more likely we are to link those actions into a complete, fluid movement that we do not have to think about. With enough practice, employees can become fluent in many different physical and mental skills.

    Provide your attorneys and staff with time to practice and experiment. Schedule lunch and learn programs. Provide ongoing training in small bite size chunks relevant to the needs of the firm in a just-in-time fashion.

    John W. Olmstead, MBA, Ph.D, CMC

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