Case studies

Case study 1: Sole practitioner

About the firm

A sole practitioner responsible for their own learning and development.

Providing a proper standard of service

How are learning and development needs identified?

Files are regularly reviewed to identify learning and development needs. Given the need to obtain repeat business, contact with clients during and post work is undertaken to ensure that the service provided is or had met expectations. This provides a further mechanism for identifying learning and development needs.

How are learning and development needs planned?

All learning and development needs are captured in an Excel spreadsheet. A short amount of time is allocated every 3-4 months to review learning and development needs and ensure that they are prioritised. Given time constraints, activity is learning and development activity is scheduled for every 6 weeks.

How are learning and development needs addressed?

A mixed approach to addressing learning and development needs is adopted. Formal training, through online webinars and attendance at seminars, ensures that identified skills and knowledge gaps are addressed. Reading material online helps to keep knowledge and developments in practice up to date.

How is learning and development recorded and evaluated?

Once activity has been completed, it is recorded in an Excel spreadsheet. Key learning points are logged and if appropriate, further learning and development needs are identified.

Case study 2: Small firm

About the firm

The firm is a small firm, employing 2 partners, 4 other qualified solicitors and 3 secretarial staff.

Providing a proper standard of service

How are learning and development needs identified?

Learning and development needs are identified by partners reviewing each piece of work before it goes to the client and by informally listening to clients contacted by staff. Where a learning and development need is identified, it is usually addressed immediately with on-the-job training.

Partners also regularly analyse client feedback, usually in the form of incoming post. This provides an opportunity to identify issues with the standard of service. Two-monthly file reviews are conducted as a further means of identifying issues.

How are learning and development needs planned?

Identified learning and development needs are logged on the firm’s online training system. This enables patterns to be identified and helps shape learning and development activity across the business.

Learning and development for staff is focussed on keeping up-to-date with changes in their areas of law – it is mandatory for staff to listen to online podcasts.

How are learning and development needs addressed?

The relatively small number of staff means that only one individual can attend external training at once. The firm maximises learning by ensuring that staff attending training present back on what they have learnt in meetings and share key messages across the business.

How is learning and development recorded and evaluated?

Individuals are required to keep their own training and development records. These include details of what has been learnt from external training, talks attended, personal research, and learning from their day-to-day role. These records are reviewed on a monthly basis during one-to-one catch-ups (at which point verbal feedback is given) and during appraisals (where records are formally reviewed and feedback documented).

Case study 3: Large firm

About the firm

This is a large firm specialising in a range of legal work. There are over 60 partners and 120 solicitors plus a large number of other staff including a Human Resources Team and Secretaries.

Providing a proper standard of service

How are learning and development needs identified?

A competency framework is used to outline the skills and knowledge required by individuals to perform their roles effectively. The framework was developed with input from each department and sets a benchmark for performance relating to the post qualification experience of an individual. This detailed framework is stored on the firms intranet so it is accessible for all staff.

Individual performance is assessed through an annual appraisal. Some departments also have career development partners, who meet regularly with assigned individuals to discuss performance. Additional learning and development needs are identified through this process.

How are learning and development needs planned?

The annual appraisal form contains a section for recording training needs and how they will be addressed. Training plans are developed in terms of their post qualification experience and by work area and take into account specific needs that require addressing.

How are learning and development needs addressed?

For technical training, the PDLs and PSLs are responsible for identifying what training is needed within each department. This is often delivered through workshops, where recent developments in the law and new cases are discussed.

For soft skills training, a series of workshops are delivered across the organisation based on issues that are identified through the appraisal process. Every other year, associate workshops take place to cover networking, delegation, feedback and supervisory skills.

Compliance and equality training is mandatory. Staff can also book learning and development independently.

How is learning and development recoded and evaluated?

Learning and development is recorded centrally by each department. Individuals track their own training via an electronic, online system, where they have a learning log, and document all training completed.

Appraisals are used to inform learning and education by providing an opportunity to discuss previous training needs. Areas for improvement are identified and further plans are developed.

Case study 4: Traditional law firm

About the firm

This firm has 5 staff – 2 partners/solicitors and 3 paralegals. The firm specialises in one area of law.

Providing a proper standard of service

How are learning and development needs identified?

The size of the firm means that the quality of performance is monitored on an ongoing basis. Learning and development needs are identified through:

  • On-the-job monitoring of soft skills such as manner with clients;
  • File reviews;
  • Quality checks on outgoing letters;
  • Regular reflection on the outcome of court cases to consider what could have been differently or improved;
  • Analysing client satisfaction surveys.

How are learning and development needs planned?

Each individual identifies their learning and development needs and logs them in a training plan. The plan outlines how their learning and development needs will be addressed. There is a training budget for staff and training is mandatory.

How are learning and development needs addressed?

Identified learning and development needs are addressed by progressing through training modules in their practice area delivered by an external training source. This provides a structured development path for less experienced staff and also provides a mechanism for updating the knowledge of staff on recent changes in their practice area. In addition, there is a focus on management skills training for partners.

How is learning and development recorded and evaluated?

In addition to the ongoing monitoring of performance, there is also an annual review process. This helps to formalise any outstanding learning and development needs and review progress.

Print page to PDF