The Savvy Approach to Law Firm Training Content
In the last year, Savvy Training & Consulting has quadrupled its writing staff for the SavvySMART Content Library. Why has this growth been necessary?
“We are working at a pace we’ve never worked at before because of cloud-based systems,” says Savvy’s chief of content development, Terry Aurit. “When Microsoft drops an update every month, it means people are going to want new training content.”
I told you about Terry’s approach to learning content last month. This month, I’d like to introduce you to the rest of the team and share why this team is singularly capable of crafting learning content for the legal industry. (Hint: They are law firm insiders.)
Savvy’s All-Star Team of Training Content Developers
Danna Correa started her training career as an instructor at the Bradford School of Business, where she taught for four years. From there, she took her teaching creds to the financial industry and served as Senior Corporate Trainer for a Houston, TX bank for another five years. Then, she changed industries and served as a law firm trainer for over 13 years. While she was at that firm, the managers moved training under IT supervision, so she also served as a Senior IT Analyst.
Maritta Terrell has worked in every position available in law firms except as an attorney! She has worked in the legal industry for over 35 years and many readers of this blog have probably met her at an ILTA or ALA conference. Maritta is currently still employed by a law firm, while serving as a contract writer to Savvy, helping us to keep our legal industry knowledge up-to-the-minute.
Katy Lumley has over 14 years of training experience in many industries, including the legal field. She possesses particular strengths in the development and implementation of learning management systems, helping the Savvy team to take the exceptional law-firm-specific content that we create and providing it to our clients in the ways that are most useful to them.
I need to state the obvious here: There are a LOT of training content providers out there. Very few (none?) of them are as singularly capable of serving the legal industry like Savvy Training & Consulting. Companies that create generic training content for every industry on the planet have no idea how unique the legal industry’s training needs are.
So, What Is Unique About Law Firm Training Content?
According to Savvy’s content writers, when they write for the legal industry, they have to keep three important things in mind:
Audience: There are diverse types of users in a law firm (admins, secretaries/paralegals, and attorneys). Each audience needs different forms of content.
Products: The legal industry is like a world unto itself with its documentation requirements. Understanding how the audiences above must create and deliver their products is critical to understanding how to develop training content that serves them well.
Culture: Nearly every established law firm out there is populated by seasoned and rookie attorneys, long-time and newbie paralegals, tenured and fresh-faced admins. The old cliché, “Change is hard,” is particularly true in law firms, where it can be especially hard to get seasoned attorneys to change their ways. This culture also impacts how training must be packaged and delivered.
As an example, Terry explained: “We know – because we have seen it ourselves – that there are some attorneys who want to treat Word like a typewriter. We have to help them understand that you can’t reuse a form like a piece of paper because there can be significant ramifications for the firm. You can’t get a document from outside the firm, slap your name on it and send it out.”
Danna agreed saying that their training content often has to share relevant context to help learners understand the importance of the task at hand.
“We might tell them that such-and-such law firm lost $6 million because of the metadata in a document that they just forwarded along,” Danna explains. “Or because of a virus that was hidden in the document. We have to point out the consequences of not learning these skills.”
How Do the Savvy Writers Put It All Together?
The Savvy content-writing process begins with what the team calls a Mind Map, which is essentially an Excel spreadsheet that groups topics together based on how someone would logically learn a new skill or tool.
The rest of the training content flows from that Mind Map, including:
Quick Reference Guides
E-learning scripts for videos, and
Quizzes/Knowledge Check Questions
Each of the content offerings above meets the specific needs of different audiences. Though everyone may use any of the products at any time, typically attorneys want the Quick Reference Guides for the quick answer, while secretaries and paralegals often want a deeper dive into a topic, using the Learning Manuals.
In the end, though, all of the Savvy content writers agree that their experience has shown them that law firms are desperately busy places where people are on inhuman deadlines. If the content they write can help someone quickly solve a problem and move forward in their workload, then the content was good.
Maritta sagely notes, “Everyone in a law firm needs everything quickly. If they can use our training content to avoid last-minute crises, then we’ve done our job well!”