Training and professional development have always been utilized by lawyers but in today’s uber-competitive legal landscape, expanding your skills and knowledge is essential for advancing your career, especially when it comes to keeping up with the latest technological advances and new trends.
Professional development is expected within the legal industry (we all have to complete those hours of mandatory CLPD) but there are also additional educational options which give you the freedom to follow a particular topic of interest or improve your ‘soft skills’ such as, communication or leadership, which should not be overlooked just because they aren’t part of the mandatory CLPD.
This article looks at the types of training and resources available and how they can help you to close more deals, gain more clients and be the best lawyer you can be!
Types of Training Opportunities
There are many options and opportunities when it comes to training – they don’t have to be linked to the legal industry for them to be beneficial to your skill set and future career.
Options include the following:
For most of us, when we think about professional development, we tend to only focus on formal training courses linked to the legal industry such as, CLPD mandatory courses.
However, there are many more course options which aren’t traditionally linked to law, but which will boost related knowledge and benefit your career.
The following types of courses are particularly useful:
• Soft Skills – these skills are vital for lawyers looking to improve their relationships with clients, grow their leadership abilities, and gain valuable knowledge in areas such as, cultural intelligence or coping with stress at work.
• IT – every industry is affected by advances and changes in IT so staying ahead of the competition is vital for success. Options might include, Cybersecurity, software possibilities for legal firms, or Data Privacy.
• Technology – Linked to IT is technology. Tech can have a huge impact on operations within a legal firm so making sure you’re up to date with technology can be a real advantage. Consider courses that include elements such as, FinTech, Blockchain, Cryptocurrencies, and so on, ensuring you are aware of, and understand, the possibilities, limitations, and legal requirements.
• Cultural Awareness – our multicultural, globalized world means interaction with people (or clients) from a different culture, background or race isn’t just likely, it is certain. Lawyers trained in cultural awareness tend to have improved relationships with those around them, make better leaders, and are culturally competent – making them more employable.
There is a wealth of information available online for those looking to update their knowledge in a certain area, improve their professional abilities, or simply, stay on top of current topics.
Make the most of free online resources such as:
Blogs – law related (or otherwise) blogs are great for keeping an eye on topics of interest or current affairs. Most large law firms blog on their website so finding one that fits your interests is fairly straightforward. It is also worth looking at blogs by key individuals linked to specific industry or topics. Blogs are also really helpful when researching clients – you can gain useful insights about them and their business by reading their blogs.
Industry News/Reports – white papers, industry news, and similar sources of information are widely available for free, online. You can research particular topics online and set alerts on search engines relating to particular subjects or keywords, saving you search time.
Podcasts/online discussions/Vlogs – TEDx is probably the most popular online library of talks and performances with topics ranging from aerospace to zoology. If you’re organized, you can download these in advance and listen/watch on the train, while running or doing the housework!
Free online resources are a really good starting point for investigating new topics as you can dip in and out when you feel like it without any costs involved.
They can be used to explore areas for in-depth studying and help choose potential courses or training providers.
Coaching and mentoring are ideal when you are trying to hone a particular skill or advance learning in a key area.
• Help you understand yourself, your efforts, and your potential
• Give direction for more effective strategies and plans
• Help you achieve your goal, faster
• Give useful feedback and act as a sounding board
• Help you use your time more wisely and keep you focussed
Mentoring and coaching don’t necessarily need to be linked to law, they can be undertaken personally to help you achieve a greater sense of well-being, a better work-life balance, improving communication or for specific goal setting.