Download a PDF of this case study

Mid-west US law firm Honigman called upon specialist technology services company Wilson Allen to standardize the software skills of attorneys and support staff across more than a dozen firm-wide applications. The personalized training program is comprehensive but not onerous to complete and is helping the firm meet client expectations for technical competence.

Jill Pace, Chief Human Resources Officer, Honigman, says the firm launched an initiative and program—Honigman Essential Application Training (HEAT)—to ensure the firm’s software applications were utilized efficiently and effectively in support of clients.

“The issue we had was some of our people didn’t use all our software applications frequently enough,” explains Gayle Grapentin, Training Manager for Honigman. “If a person didn’t have a skill in a certain application, the task would fall to someone else who was seen as the expert in that application, but that person would often be inundated with tasks.”

By ensuring consistent software adoption, the firm would be better able to share assignments among attorney support professionals to level out workflow and improve response times.

Customized for law firm duties

Pace was the first to identify the issue and realize that skills standardization would provide attorneys and support staff with more well-rounded capabilities. But designing training for every person within the firm to meet this need was quickly identified as too time-consuming to handle in-house.

“Everyone has different business needs, strengths and learning opportunities,” says Grapentin. “We needed a program that would offer broad coverage across our key applications and provide enough depth for more intensive instruction for those that needed it.”

She says Wilson Allen’s training program was of immediate interest, as it was already designed to address typical law firm required technology application skills.

Wilson Allen’s specialist training content and services are certified by the Legal Technology Core Competencies Certification Coalition (LTC4). LTC4 technology certification programs are widely recognized in the legal market as they reflect mastery of critical technology skills in a legal environment.  The training not only covers core Microsoft Office applications but provides training across several of the major legal-specific applications, including document management and CRM.

Flexible, achievable training 

Grapentin says Wilson Allen’s training approach is a great fit for Honigman’s purposes.

“The program is broken down into short-duration modules, which take from one to four minutes to complete, and the assessments are equally fine-tuned. We picked the modules from a menu, and we threw in some that were additional to LTC4 purposes because we saw the program as an opportunity to train people in the basics as well as more advanced knowledge wherever possible.”

Honigman ran an extensive internal marketing campaign to promote the program, including sending regular program updates, and ‘gamifying’ the program by sharing completion statistics.

“As part of the initial rollout, we announced the program at department meetings and established a timetable to kick off each learning plan,” explains Pace. “Every two to three months, we incorporated an additional learning plan and adopted recognition means for those successfully completing the program in the allotted time.”

With over 1,000 modules making up the training, Grapentin said Wilson Allen provided valuable assistance in deploying the training. “They helped me with the selections and provided hands-on support to get them all incorporated into our learning management system.”

Removing productivity roadblocks

Overall engagement with the learning program has been exceptional, says Pace. “Of course, some people feel like they don’t need it, but we won them over by explaining that it is valuable for their personal growth and professional development. As core competencies are mastered LTC4 certifications are awarded on an individual basis so the program also supports our continuous professional development efforts.”

The training program enhances the value the firm provides its clients. “You can’t deliver the utmost value if you have roadblocks in your productivity or have to do things circuitously due to uneven skills distribution,” says Pace.

“From firm experience, when clients issue requests for proposal, it is increasingly common for them to inquire about a firm’s technical adoption and training programs to advance their service delivery, because they know inefficiency can give rise to variations in the value of work product. These days firms need to be law and technology experts, so ensuring everyone has the right skills is vitally important.”

The HEAT program is now a permanent fixture at Honigman, and it is paying dividends for the firm.

Says Pace, “We have observed improved tech skills in our attorneys, attorney support professionals and administrative staff alike.”

About Honigman

Honigman is a business law firm with an eye towards responsiveness and innovation. Founded in Detroit in 1948, it has offices across Michigan, Chicago and Washington, D.C. Our sophisticated attorneys counsel clients on complex issues in more than 25 legal practice areas. We are proud to have recruited the best and brightest legal minds from across the United States—including from the U.S. Department of Justice, Am Law 50 firms, and leading global organizations—to help further strengthen our practice group expertise.

About Wilson Allen

Wilson Allen’s specialists are trusted by the operational leaders of the world’s largest law firms and professional services organizations. We deliver the projects, the consulting, and the managed services our customers need to run their businesses more profitably by optimizing their business applications, technology, and data.