Here are a baker’s dozen of methods to improve the professional skills of in-house lawyers. I don’t vouch for them all, but at the same time there are likely to be many other methods.
1. Executive courses, such as in marketing, finance, accounting and strategic planning. (See my post of May 14, 2005 about a course at Harvard Business School.)
2. Customized training by a university, such as what Wharton is doing for Reed Smith and Boston University is doing for ACC Northeast (See my post of April 12, 2006 about university programs for inside lawyers and several related posts.).
3. Shadow a client for a week.
4. Flip two lawyers for some period of time to exchange jobs, or arrange an overlap of their work in a job share.
5. Rotate lawyers after two or three years in a position. This has the advantage of having the new person challenge old ways of working, break down silos, grow as a lawyer, and accustom clients to a wider group of lawyers.
6. Train the trainer and distribute training at lunches or through communities of practice, for example. Most people learn when they have to teach.
7. Online training (See my post of Dec. 19, 2005 on various methods of training.).
8. Training at internal corporate universities, such as what the sales force does (See my post of July 5, 2006 about online legal compliance vendors.).
9. Law firms come in and train.
10. Investments in flat-fee arrangements with a course provider, like PLI.
11. CLE courses provided by bar groups and professional organizations.
12. Formalized backup training
13. Keep a journal of what you learn and perhaps share it with like-minded colleagues.