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Arthur Cox is one of Ireland’s leading law firms with over 700 staff across offices in Dublin, Belfast, London, New York, and San Francisco. The firm engaged Wilson Allen to help it transform the delivery of training and onboarding to its workforce in response to the changing needs brought on by the pandemic.

In particular, the firm wanted to provide new flexibility in where and how its people learn.

Caroline Lynch, Learning and Development Manager, Arthur Cox, says that as a result, the firm’s training team significantly changed and enhanced its new hire training programme with a remote-friendly, online-based, blended learning approach.

“This represented a shift from our existing new hire programme, which was primarily classroom-based and delivered only 20 per cent of its 15-hour associate training online.”

She says delivering the right resources and support across the firm was critical to making the new remote learning model work effectively. The programme offered employees personalized content based on their learning style and existing competencies in an easy-to-use learning management system.

“Scenario-based learning won the employees over thanks to the relevance of the content to their jobs and the ability to practice in the app, reducing stress for the employee,” says Lynch.

Defining success in a changing environment

The firm’s initial targets for training included new hires and joiners in three key areas:

  • Legal professionals—trainees, paralegals, associates, and partners
  • Legal support specialists—executive assistants and practice administrators
  • Business service professionals—learning & development, marketing, accounts, and legal technology staff

The firm set proficiency objectives for the participants, including introducing new hires to firm structure, policies, and practices and familiarising new hires with firm business applications and processes—with an emphasis on mapping those tools to participants’ specific roles in a relevant and engaging manner.

The training team incorporated scenario-based learning modules that were focused on helping users be more productive with the document management, email, time capture, and document comparison tools.

Transitioning to a fully remote, blended approach

Lynch says the programme takes a blended learning approach combining online learning modules created by Wilson Allen, workshop tasks based on those modules, and virtual classroom sessions via a video conferencing platform.

“First, learners receive an orientation guide pack that includes information on all core business systems and processes. In addition, the guide contains links to relevant online learning content—eLearning, videos, and other resources.

“They review the guide and have an orientation session over video link with a technology trainer.”

The trainer reviews tasks and gives feedback in follow-up video sessions. In these sessions, the trainer provides additional tips and training on firm-specific content, including the firm’s house style rules.

A resounding success

Arthur Cox has received positive feedback from new hires. One recent hire said, “I found the experience of onboarding remotely seamless—nearly better than doing it on site as I was able to take it at my own pace. The system is user-friendly, and the relevant staff contacts were always available if queries occurred.

The ‘learn-practice-perform’ approach was critical to the programme’s success, adds Lynch. “One benefit of the online training exercises was that the task-based method was engaging and made it easier to remember new tools by trying them then and there. In addition, the majority of the modules had useful tips, and I can see myself using them while working.”

A recent hire who re-joined the firm after several years (and had completed the “old” classroom format orientation) said the new blended format training was well organized, well laid out, and well delivered. In addition, the related exercises and written materials were easy to use and relevant.

“The third-party material is easy to use. The short, bite-sized videos are handy as they deal with each subject in manageable sections that are easy to understand and easy to refer back to if you have a specific query.”

Continuing the journey

While online learning can be challenging for those most familiar with in-person classroom learning, the feedback received was overwhelmingly positive.

“Our experience is that users enjoy getting to work at their own pace and can somewhat set their training schedule free from the stress of the classroom environment,” says Lynch.

The Arthur Cox training team envisions expanding the initiative by developing additional custom content in-house, including even deeper materials designed for specific roles and stakeholders.

Says Lynch: “Online learning is here to stay, and we’re well prepared to expand internal resources and evolve our approaches moving forward.”

About Arthur Cox

Arthur Cox LLP is one of Ireland’s leading law firms. It is an “all-island” firm with offices in Dublin and Belfast. It also has offices in London, New York, and San Francisco. Its practice encompasses all aspects of corporate and business law. With over 530 legal staff and a total headcount of 740, it provides a comprehensive service to an international client base ranging from multinational organizations, banks, and financial institutions and established global leaders to government agencies and new players in emerging industry sectors.

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.