Whether it's face-to-face or online, lawyers can benefit from regular learning and upskilling
This article was produced in partnership with LexisNexis.
Jacqueline So of NZ Lawyer sat down with LexisNexis NZ Customer Experience and Success Manager Alex Wakelin to discuss the value of constant learning and upskilling for lawyers and opportunities training can create.
The Great Resignation has been a major concern for organisations in the wake of COVID-19, and it has been no different from law firms. With borders opening up and lawyers able to travel again, it can seem difficult for New Zealand firms to compete with the attractive benefits and salaries offered by firms overseas.
For Alex Wakelin, this is where learning and development opportunities come in.
“I think the learning and development of staff seems to be a key driver for people to stay,” she says. “I believe that offering channels to develop and learn and to apply that learning within firms can be a really valuable way that New Zealand businesses can compete.”
Wakelin, who possesses a background in a variety of training methods including distance learning and digital learning, has observed how the pandemic drove the need for upskilling, especially when it came to technologically driven ways of working.
“There's research out there that suggests that there’s lots of pressure on everybody, not just lawyers, to upskill and reskill more effectively to deal with the future of work trends like hybrid working that have come off the back of COVID and the pandemic,” she explains.
“What we found through interviews and discussions we were having with lawyers last year is that the biggest challenge around learning was really about pivoting to that online environment and collaboration methods in a new way of working with customers and their clients.”
Where junior lawyers have traditionally honed their craft by being around senior lawyers and observing what they do, having to work from home nipped this learning opportunity in the bud; thus, lawyers have needed to identify new ways to develop their skills.
“There are a lot of opportunities for people to develop themselves these days via mechanisms beyond just face-to-face training, like massive online open courses (for example those offered by Edx or Coursera). So there are a lot of ways that people can learn on a continuous basis all the time now, and I think COVID has pushed people into being more aware of those digital opportunities,” Wakelin says.
“Junior lawyers are still working out how they work and practice, and they've got to do more with less so maybe they’re more open to working in new ways.”
Nonetheless, this doesn’t mean that senior lawyers have struggled to learn new tricks – it has simply been about understanding the value of upskilling.
“Theories of adult learning basically say that people have to see what value there is in changing what they do and learning something new. It's got to be relevant to them, it's got to help them deliver what they need to have delivered, and it's got to help them achieve their goals,” Wakelin explains. “Within LexisNexis, we are looking at explaining that to our people as well so that they can also feel that they can apply it to their own growth and how and how they want to learn.”
As the profession begins to move past the pandemic, she points out the importance of appreciating different ways of learning. LexisNexis has begun offering in-person training again, but remote learning methods like Zoom webinars or on-demand videos continue to be useful particularly for firms with workforces in various areas.
For Wakelin, upskilling and reskilling are not about overhauling existing legal skills, but about “just getting better at what people already do” and being adaptable to the dynamic nature of the current environment.
“Adaptability means constant change, and constant change means organisations and individuals need to be constantly learning about what's coming next, keeping abreast of what's evolving, and staying on top of not just legal information and legal practice, but also the wider world,” she says.
For more information on a customised training program for yourself or your firm, kindly contact LexisNexis here.
Alex Wakelin, Customer Experience and Success Manager, LexisNexis
Alex’s interest in workplace learning began in the UK running distance-learning legal programmes for Kings College London and subsequently heading the delivery of portfolio of postgraduate education programmes with Lloyd’s Maritime Academy. More recently she was an editor of both print and digital academic resources at LexisNexis and global digital education organisation Pearson.
In 2020 she completed postgraduate studies in Digital Education at Massey University. With a 20+ years working in education and professional training Alex’s passion is for delivering effective and valuable in-person and digital experiences to working learners.