The Law Firm as a Learning Organisation

“The shift to a learning culture is an aspiration; in practice it will take a long time and success in any organisation may be patchy, or even go into reverse on occasion.”  pg 15 Learning and Development 2020: A Guide For The Next Decade

It seems quite apt that my blog post following on from the previous one should look at this issue of developing a learning culture.

The quote is taken from Martyn Sloman’s excellent, and free, report on learning and development.  Follow the link above.

What do law firms have to do to develop a learning culture?

What unique obstacles are there, if any, within law firms?

What examples are there in the market place that demonstrate this learning culture aspiration, and how do they respond to it?

My own view is that competence is often narrowly evaluated within organisations including law firms.  We might see an excellent lawyer as someone who has the most remarkable knowledge of a certain area of law, and the ability to exploit that.

At the same time, however, we might see other skills as being sorely lacking.  Communication, presentation or effectiveness might all be close to nil with these shortcomings either overlooked or covered up.

It can be very difficult to accept that although we might be exceptional in one area that we are verging on the incompetent in others.  As a provocation I put forward the suggestion that future legal service providers might need very little in the way of specific legal knowledge.  They will always be able to access that particular commodity.  The new excellence may well, instead, be measured by accessibility, flexibility and alternative funding structures.

To my mind, the learning culture aspiration opens up a curiosity and an appetite to learn new ways of dealing, serving, working and thinking.  If we can do something to turn on that curiosity then my hunch is that we would see much more fluidity and responsiveness in the emerging legal services market.

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