Best methods to train law department lawyers on software

The most effective training for lawyers is one-on-one right at the time they bump into a problem. For example, if a lawyer wants to customize a report in a matter management system, how better than to walk the lawyer through the steps in hands-on training? Immediacy, relevance, and personalization best imprints learning – but it is costly. As a side note, if lawyers practice with their own data – with due regard to keep the original data intact – they tend to retain the lessons longer.

A variation is peer training. I always learn when I watch someone else use a program. Often, it has never occurred to me to handle some function the way they do, such as Control V in Word for Paste (I always use a right click on the mouse or the Paste icon on the tool bar).

Next most effective is training for small groups of lawyers or paralegals or administrative assistants. It is better to keep people of the same level together, not mixed with bosses or reports, so that they feel comfortable asking questions and focusing on concerns of their level.

Less effective is providing cheat sheets, CD ROMS or online training. In favor of these tools, however, are their low cost and flexibility: law department members can refer to them whenever they want.

Among the least effective methods of software training is a mass session for several hours that goes over lots of functions and screens. People subjected to that onslaught retain very little.

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