Extend learning opportunities to your entire firm

Terry Brock, an Orland, FL techie guru, had the following observation:

“In Miami, Florida today, even minimum wage truck drivers are required to have three important skills, 1) Fluency in English, 2) Fluency in Spanish, and 3) Fluency in Computers. That industry requires the driver to be aware of computers, how to use them and not be afraid of them. This is for a job that starts at minimum wage and increases to $7.50 to $8.00 per hour. Check your local paper and notice how many jobs are available that don’t require a knowledge of computers. Not many!”

While Terry’s comments pertain to computers and today’s technology, they also apply to lawyer education in general.

Years ago, I opposed the imposition of MCLE (mandatory, euphemistically called “minimum”) requirements on lawyers. My argument then was that the increased costs of doing business caused by the education requirements would be passed on to consumers (clients); good lawyers already attend extensive continuation education programs and “bad” lawyers would not learn from the contents of the contemplated programs; and a new business would be created (education providers, enriching a few) with no quality control standards in place. All of my complaints have seen the light of day, I’m sorry to say.

One thing remains true, however, and that is that good lawyers still are engaging in extensive education, both as a learner and as a teacher/mentor. They continue to get better, honing/enhancing their existing skills and learning new skills to further benefit clients.

There is a gap, though, between focusing on one’s own skills and seeing the larger picture of teaching everyone in your office those skills (whatever they may be) to enable them (your staff, associates and partners) to do their jobs better — to provide better service and enhanced skills to your clients. Everyone in your office should be taking hours of education programs each year.

The Bar associations that require 12 hours (and some not even that)of lawyer education yearly are participating in a fraud on the public. This will not, generally, protect the public enough to warrant its requirement. And now, some Bar associations are considering (assuming they had it in the first place) deleting the requirement of practice management. When more than 60% of today’s discipline structure revolves around complaints over practice management, why would this not be the major focus of the Bar’s education requirements?

Just my $.02 worth ….


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