Mayvin_Action Learning in legal

Mayvin and Farrers breaking the mould in legal training with Action Learning

Mayvin and City law firm Farrer and Co were runners up in the “Breaking the mould” category at this year’s Legal Education and Training Group Awards

Mayvin and Farrer and Co, a law firm synonymous with the highest quality legal advice and service, were highly commended at the Legal Education and Training Group (LETG) Awards with an innovative Action Learning project.

With over 500 members across the UK including most of the top 100 law firms, the LETG awards represents the leading industry recognition for Learning and Development excellence.

The collaboration between the two organisations caught the LETG’s attention because Action Learning is uncharted territory in the legal sector: in and of itself AL is not a new practice, but it is innovative in the legal sector, a sector known for its fragmented cultures and individual targets.

The aim was to embed a reflective culture of collaboration and learning in the firm, not just to meet the new professional development obligations set by the Solicitors Regulation but also to maximise the extraordinary talents of its people.

Katherine Wilde, Head of Knowledge Management at Farrers says: “It’s well-known that clever people learn best through experience rather than formal classroom learning. The 70:20:10 principle used in Action Learning presented an ideal way to achieve this.”

The starting point for the Action Learning initiative was a wholesale review of the Knowledge Learning and Development (KL&D) function, focussing on the pivotal role which could be played by the firm’s Knowledge Lawyers. As the non-practising legal professionals responsible for the firm’s collective knowledge, they were the best candidates to take this innovation into the firm.

The training, delivered by Mayvin Director James Traeger, was double-duty – while learning the ropes of facilitation (listening, inquiry, influence, group dynamics) the Knowledge Lawyers acted themselves as an Action Learning set.

The results were immediate. The Knowledge Lawyers were able to apply their learnings to tackle complex business issues relating to KL&D (how to foster a knowledge sharing culture) and other related matters in the course of the training.

Thanks to the firm’s emphasis on stewardship, encouragement of independent thinking and willingness for employees to bring their whole selves to work, the project was a true success. The training itself was universally praised for providing the Knowledge Lawyer team with an opportunity to bond and unify as a knowledge community away from their practice area based desks. It also allowed them deep learning on key KL&D issues which has influenced their day to day working.

Katherine Wilde, Head of Knowledge Management at Farrer & Co commented: “We believe that, used regularly and effectively, Action Learning will shift the way we learn at Farrers. It is all about reflective learning – you cannot participate if you are only in “receive mode”. Our Knowledge Lawyers were the perfect facilitator candidates: enthusiastic, committed to L&D and already embedded as trusted experts in their practice areas.” But the story does not end there.

Katherine concludes: “We believe Action Learning has already addressed some of our challenges. However, this is very much an ongoing project with no defined end point. Indeed, we are already selecting our next training group – this time introducing the concept to Business Services. We are all excited about the future of Action Learning at the Firm.”

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