Almost three quarters of legal professionals are struggling to find the time to complete essential learning and training because of heavy workloads.
New research from legal software specialist Access Legal has highlighted the challenges law firms across the country are facing when it comes to learning, as well as the ways the pandemic has shifted their approach to training.
The survey collated the opinions of employees from 137 UK law firms, with respondents ranging from top 100 legal practices to sole practitioners.
When asked about the top learning barriers currently faced by law firms, 74 per cent cited time restraints, with 48 per cent saying they struggled to make sure training was fully completed. The issue of time becomes even more prevalent, with the report revealing that over a quarter of legal professionals (26 per cent) have no time at all set aside as part of their working week for learning.
“It’s evident that time constraints are proving a real issue for law firms,” commented Sarah Mian, Access Legal’s Learning Product Owner and author of the new report. “It’s well documented that those working in the legal sector have extremely heavy workloads. In fact, a survey from Keystone Law found 70 per cent of lawyers believe they work in the most stressful profession. 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.”
Access Legal’s learning report also explores the impact of the pandemic on learning within law firms, with 73 per cent stating their digital learning use has increased in the past 12-months. 64 per cent said they had moved their learning and training provision entirely online, with 67 per cent committed to continuing digital-based learning once restrictions are eased.
This follows a recent survey conducted as part of Raconteur’s Digital Learning guide. It looked at businesses across all sectors and found that only 21 per cent had introduced any kind of new digital learning solution since the start of the pandemic. Compared to the much higher, legal specific figures of Access Legal’s report, this would suggest that the legal sector’s use of digital learning software was behind other sectors pre-Covid and the pandemic forced the sector to catch up.
“The legal sector has very specific needs when it comes to learning and training. It’s hardly surprising that 96 per cent of the firms we spoke to prefer law firm specific training, with 51 per cent preferring all topics to be law firm specific.
“The problem is a lack of provision and law firms having a fairly fragmented experience of technology up until this point. Faced with those challenges, it’s easy to see why many firms have opted for in-person learning and training instead. However, the pandemic means that needs and expectations have changed, which is why we are seeing the shift to digital.
“Our findings really do highlight the need for firms to invest in their people and explore ways to free them up to learn and ultimately focus on delivering exceptional service for their clients.”
Access Legal is part of The Access Group, one of the UK’s leading software providers. The legal software division launched at the beginning of April, supporting an initial customer base of 3,500 legal practices, including Eversheds, Winn Solicitors, Wolferstans, Minster Law, Neves Solicitors LLP and The MAPD Group.
You can read Access Legal’s full report, now available online - Legal Unlimited: The Low Down On Learning For Law Firms – 2021 Research Report.