In-House Legal Training

This post comes about due to a hostile argument with my training department yesterday.

At my previous firm the training department was filled with people who had “bombed out” and failed in other areas of law. A large number had been solicitors that were moved sideways, with a succession of internal moves within the company, until training was seen as the safest option where they couldn’t result in (direct) professional negligence claims. The remaining trainers tended to be former LPC graduates that were unable to make the grade at paralegal level, let along be of the requisite standard for trainee calibre.

Before I moved to my current firm they sold me the impression that the in-house training programme was excellent, with a former partner responsible for running training sessions, and a fairly substantial budget for attending external events.

It was all very promising.

Then reality bit.

What was the problem?

It turned out that the in-house trainer is dedicated to a fairly niche area of law, upon which he has spent 30+ years practicing law with varied success, and is undoubtedly very skilled in this area.  He also happens to be a good teacher in so far as getting his material across in a logical manner.

The problem is there are a number of different areas of law in our firm. As you can imagine, most of our dedicated training sessions are sub-par. Quite frankly, we know more about certain areas of law than the trainer. That doesn’t stop him trying to teach us everything though!

What happens when you really need to receive quality training?

Let me remind you that we have an external budget for training. This is an implied acknowledgment by our firm that sometimes they need to outsource. 

Recently we saw that a large legal training provider was offering 2 different courses that were relevant to our department.  Everything about the webinar and seminar was tailored to our area of work.

The cost was under £100 per delegate. It sounded great!

So where did you hit the brick wall?

The in-house trainer decided to take issue with us using an external provider. The paperwork submitted to arrange the course was rejected. This is normally a rubber stamping exercise.

For some reason, he considered junior counsel with decades of experience and reported decisions in our area of law to somehow lack the skills and service he could provide to us.

The stand-off came when we were told that although we had authorised the training at departmental level, and there was sufficient budget, we would be required to provide a SECOND business case to justify our attendance.

We told him to stick it (using some very unkind words). Hence, why there was a hostile argument.

Moral of the story

Sometimes there can be the situation where “one size fits nobody”.

Legal training providers offer a wide range of services. Frequently they have a roster of trainers, ranging from barristers, solicitors and consultants.

There is a good reason for this – the trainer tends to be an expert in their area!

You are unlikely to see a costs expert offering a seminar in costs budgeting and assessments on Monday, and then running a session on residential conveyancing on Tuesday.

What next?

My colleagues are rightfully aggrieved. They also have devilish senses of humour. Talk of recommending some extremely niche areas of law for future training are circling the rumour mill.

My suspicion is that the office’s (very sharp & witty) NQ will be requesting in-house training on old statutes or 19th century nuisance law cases.  This will solely be for the purpose of making the legal trainer spend a lot of time in the library making a bespoke seminar which he will have to deliver.

I expect that once he has confirmed that he has prepared it, we will put forward ‘business needs’ to cancel it.

It’s not a good use of company resources and smacks of office politics and being childish.  All for the sake of an ego.  Hopefully the team will shrug it off and they won’t keep up their talk of revenge.

Private legal trainers can sleep well tonight – the market still needs you!


Over and out.

Legal Orange.



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