Two-thirds of law firms say the increase in digital learning as a result of the pandemic will continue, a survey has found.
But a quarter of firms said their lawyers have “no time” for training during the working day, meaning it had to be done in their own time or not at all.
Researchers from legal software supplier Access Legal spoke to training managers at 137 law firms, most having 25 partners or fewer.
Some 67% said their firm would continue to provide more digital learning than before the pandemic – only 6% said they would not.
One partner commented that he could not “see why anyone would go to an in-person training event these days”.
Webinars (69%) and e-learning (65%) were the most popular forms of training, but face-to-face sessions with individual trainers, which have been on hold because of the pandemic, were cited as popular by 44% of respondents, almost as many as mentioned virtual trainer-led sessions (49%).
Researchers commented: “Whilst some appreciated that digital learning is ‘economical’, ‘efficient’ and ‘easier to access’, others found that it was ‘less sociable’ and face-to-face training meant staff could engage and attend more easily in work time.”
Lack of time was regarded as much the biggest challenge to training in the legal world.
Almost three-quarters of training managers rated it as their top challenge, followed by “ensuring training is completed” (48%), the need for “engaging content” (38%) and “keeping up with changes in the law/legislation” (26%).
Budgets were less of an obstacle, cited by only 23%, and ‘reporting and evidencing training’ even less at 16%.
When asked how much time lawyers had to carry out training every week, the largest group (35%) said they had half an hour to an hour, with 26% saying up to half an hour and the lucky few (13%) more than an hour.
Around a quarter (26%) responded to the question about how much time for training, by replying “none”.
One partner said the demands of the job made it “very hard” to set aside time for training during the working day. “Most staff end up completing the training in their own time.”
Risk and compliance was regarded as the most important topic for training, closely followed by learning specific to a given practice area and a given role.
Sarah Mian, Access Legal’s learning product owner and author of the report, said: “It’s well documented that those working in the legal sector have extremely heavy workloads. However, what our study really highlights is just how much a lack of time is impacting on essential learning and training.
“Time constraints was the top challenge for all firms, regardless of size and with a quarter of professionals saying they have no time at all to complete training, it suggests learners are either completing training outside of working hours or, worryingly, are not completing training at all.”
Ms Mian added that there was a problem with “lack of provision and law firms having a fairly fragmented experience of technology up until this point”, but the pandemic meant that “needs and expectations have changed, which is why we are seeing the shift to digital”.