How to increase the “deep smarts” of inside lawyers

If you understand the relative effectiveness of different modes of transferring knowledge, you can more effectively boost the performance of your lawyers. In Deep Smarts: How to Cultivate and Transfer Enduring Business Wisdom, co-authors Dorothy Leonard and Walter Swap describe five modes of knowledge transfer, which range from passive reception (“Directives/presentations/lectures”) and “Rules of thumb” through a mix of passive and active learning (“Stories with a moral;” “Socratic questioning”) to the most active learning (“Learning by doing (guided experience)”)

Leonard and Swap stress that “we remember something longer if we struggle to understand it before the issue is resolved.” Active learning, the apprenticeship practicing lawyers pass through, embeds knowledge the best. Hence, law departments need to encourage teaming, active oversight, and post mortems.

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