Peer to Peer Magazine

March 2012

The quarterly publication of the International Legal Technology Association

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Page 24 of 103

case studies A Global Approach Creates Consistent Results by Lee Morrow of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, LLP One of the biggest training challenges for larger firms is how to deliver training that is consistent across multiple offices. About five years ago, our firm came to the realization that while the trainers in each of our offices — domestic and international — were highly skilled, each one approached the training of desktop applications differently. Each trainer created his own syllabuses and handouts. Normally this wouldn't be an issue. After all, Word is Word, right? But, we're a large firm with many offices. Our attorneys not only share documents within their primary office, they frequently travel to and work in other offices. It became obvious that word processors and secretaries in New York, for instance, had to be able to open a document originally created in London and pick up seamlessly with the next round of edits. After too much back-and-forth — "I can't believe they formatted it this way" and "Why did you strip and reformat the entire document?" — we decided it was time to launch the Global Training Initiative (GTI). Preparing for Global Training The goal of the GTI was to have agreed-upon best practices for the training and usage of all desktop applications. We wanted all trainers, regardless of office or location, to use the same syllabus, handouts, in-class demonstration documents, exercises and post- class quizzes. We created a "trainers only" page on our firm's intranet so that every trainer could easily download what they needed. This made it easy for us to update materials and to get those revised versions to our trainers within minutes. We worked with in-house programmers to create a global training calendar that would allow attorneys, legal assistants and support staff to see the classes being offered in each office. They could enroll themselves or their direct supervisor could do so. Not only did this give us a daily snapshot of what each office was doing in terms of training, but it also ensured that the classes always had the same title, syllabus and handouts. There would be no more need for trainers to ask, "What do you teach in Excel 101?" The Biggest Challenge The biggest challenge in making such an initiative work was not in making sure staff mastered the applications. We had many word processors and secretaries who knew the Office applications inside and out. The challenge we faced was buy-in from our global staff of trainers. A trainer who says, "I've taught Word for 20 years" is going to need some persuasion to throw out an old syllabus covered in years of penciled-in notes and approach teaching Word in a different way. The first thing we did was to make sure each application was approached from the point of view of the attorneys. We wanted training to change its focus from how attorneys use Word to what Word can do to meet the needs of attorneys. If the structured finance practice area needed to have two tables of contents in their prospectuses, we needed to make sure our word processors and secretaries knew how to perform that function. We also needed to ensure that the tables of contents were inserted in the best way and always in the same way. Then anyone who subsequently worked in the document, regardless of office location, could simply make their edits without wasting time trying to figure out the best way to insert a TOC. Even our most veteran trainers responded positively to this approach since trainers are often the first to be sent to an unhappy attorney to "figure out what's going on" with a document. Our trainers have come to value all the material being created for the GTI team; not having to create their own materials gives 26 Peer to Peer

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