Downs Rachlin Martin Attorneys and Staff “Step It Up” to Stay Ahead of Client Demands.

Industry trends inspire DRM to take action.

Downs Rachlin Martin PLLC (DRM), a New England based law firm, has always counted innovation among their brand’s key characteristics. When, however, IT Director Karen Norman learned that Kia's in-house counsel D. Casey Flaherty was using attorney technology testing to drive down rates, she knew she needed a way to turn that core trait into hard data, and fast.

In order to achieve the highest level of compliance, Ms. Norman knew she’d need the full support of the firm’s management. She engaged the Managing Partner around the concept of being able to demonstrate the firm’s commitment to innovation through the use of technology. Fully aware of the changes in the market place, the management team was quick to engage the Practice Group Chairs in support of this program. The Practice Group Chairs then nominated a representative from their respective groups to form a committee whose purpose was to identify the specific core competencies they believed were of highest value to clients.

The committee had made notable progress defining the core competencies when Norman learned about the Legal Technologies Core Competencies Certification Coalition (LTC4). LTC4 is a non-profit group consisting of 80+ law firms who have developed industry-standard legal technology core competencies. Ms. Norman felt this helped her cause significantly because it gave DRM an industry standard path to follow.

It was around the same time that Ms. Norman met Capensys, a training company for law firms, LTC4 founders, and vendor members. The firm chose to partner with Capensys because they offer a delivery system that supported 130+ staff and attorneys from 5 different offices accessing the Learning Management System. Equally as important are the KnowledgeChecks, which allow the firm to evaluate the skills learned at different stages of the core competency program, with tools to manage and report on the success of the training program.

How did they implement the program?

Once the core competencies were decided upon and the learning materials and tools from Capensys were in place, the firm promoted the program internally. They applied the firm’s brand standards and named the core competency program ”Step It Up." Most importantly, they devised a reward system that encouraged timely participation. Using monthly incentives, the firm saw a very high level of participation with 100% of staff and paralegals and 80% of associates completing Level 1.

The firm delivered 2 levels of the core competency program. Level 1 consisted of core competencies that were common to all users. Level 2 was customized to align with the jobs and specific roles of users.

The training and IT team reported that the program was going really well. After the Level 1, they sent out a survey to ask for feedback. The feedback was overwhelmingly positive with respondents saying that they had learned something. People commented that it was "Very helpful" and "Not repetitious".

The firm is also using the program very successfully for their new hire program, where they are incorporating a lot of the skills from the Step It Up program. For example, IT trainer Marsha Kuhn makes sure everyone completes the FileSite online learning before they come to new hire training. When users are already prepared it allows her to cover more in her face-to-face sessions.

Capensys’ Resource Gateway was rolled out by the firm to provide reference materials that users could utilize after the training. To encourage self-service behaviour, Kuhn wrote an article about the Resource Gateway and how it can be used for just-in-time support and coaching.

DRM is a now member of LTC4 and will continue to use it as the basis of their core competency program. They feel that working towards LTC4 certification will be very helpful to associates.
The firm was also awarded CLE accreditation for the Security online course provided by Capensys, and attorneys will be going through this to get one hour of CLE.

“All of this serves to help us provide even more value to our clients”, says Ms. Norman.

The firm will be moving to Capensys’ new tool “LIA” (Learning in Action) to continue to build on the core competency program and to measure multiple methods of accomplishing tasks. The firm is also working towards including the completion and mastery of the core competency program into the annual appraisals of the staff and paralegals.

The management team at DRM is pleased with the outcome of the program and feels that continual training in technology provides a competitive advantage and improves the firm’s ability to serve their clients.