We’ve all probably heard some variation of the following two business quotes:

Prepare your staff so they can leave and go anywhere… treat them well enough so they don’t want to leave.

Q: What if I train them, and they leave?
A: What if you don’t train them and they stay?

I thought about both of these a couple weeks ago when I had to go in and justify my budget for 2018. One of the first questions that came up was why my professional development budget was (percentage-wise) so much larger than other departments. I responded with a variation of the two quotes listed above. Professional development is one of the most important benefits I think a department can offer. It is especially important when the department has a variety of legal topics which it must research and master.

When interviewing candidates for research positions, I stress the importance of professional development, and sell that as a reason to come work for me. When I do annual reviews of employees, professional development for the upcoming year is always included in the discussion, and we toss ideas back and forth on what is important to the individual employee to learn, as well as what the different practice areas and industry practices need us to know. When I need to cut budgets, professional development is the last place I look, not the first. And, when employees decide it is time to move on in their careers, I want them to stress to potential employers that professional development support is one of the factors they are looking when making the decision to come work for them.

Most law firms do not lack from training and professional development opportunities. We have arrangements and subscriptions from the local and state bar associations. Subscriptions and memberships to the American Bar Association, and other professional associations such as the American Association of Law Libraries, ILTA, the Legal Marketing Association, professional industry associations, and subscriptions to online, on-demand, and in-person classes through publishers and professional development companies, such as West LegalEdCenter, ARK or PLI. Some of these are unlimited subscriptions to any of the offered courses. The key to making the most of these training opportunities is stressing the importance of professional development to those in the department, and providing them the time and resources needed to attend the courses.

I’m also a big believer in letting people attend these courses and educational conferences in person. It costs more, but there are direct and indirect benefits from actually sitting in a room with others that make up for those costs. It shows the importance you place on professional development. It shows the trust you have in that person to be away from the office, hopefully in a place that is fun to visit, and that you see and treat them as a professional. It gives them an opportunity to meet others who have similar interests, and potentially build a professional peer group to reach out to after the courses or conferences are over. When professional development is organized correctly, it is a win for everyone in the organization.

90% of people don’t know how to use CTRL+F to find a word in a document or web page. Instead, they search the old-fashioned way, manually skimming the text.

This preponderance of ignorance is stupefying to me. But I want to be very clear that I am using the word “ignorance” in its most neutral form–i.e., lack of information or knowledge–rather than to convey any judgment or pejorative connotation. Ignorance is unavoidable. The only settled part of the debate as to who was the last person to know everything is that the person is long dead.

The curse of ignorance is that you don’t know what you don’t know. Previous posts have touched on this obstacle of metacognition, and our ignorance of our own ignorance. But there is another side of the coin: the curse of knowledge. The curse of knowledge is that once we know something, it is really hard to imagine not knowing it. This incapacity undermines communication and, especially, instruction because of the lack of shared information and assumptions. If I, for example, were going to put together some tips on internet research, I doubt that, absent the article cited above, I would have thought to include CTRL+F. I would have assumed that most everyone already knew it. I would have been wrong.

Indeed, I am a posterchild for both curses. I’ve told the story many times that my inflection point in using technology involved a client discovering that I printed and scanned to create PDFs. But how was I supposed to know what I didn’t know–there’s an app for that–without already knowing it? Yet, several years later, I delegated a task where one of the steps involved converting a large volume of documents into PDF. I was shocked (shocked!!!) to find that the person was spending hours printing and scanning. I assumed that because I knew how to convert a file to PDF, they knew it, too, despite the fact that I had been Exhibit A that this was not knowledge everyone possessed.

Thus, whether we know something or not, we too often assume that others know it. The tech-averse frequently fall into the trap of thinking the tech-comfortable know everything there is to know about tech. And those who know tech sometimes assume that others do, too. Both curses are reason that competence-based assessments are such excellent training tools. Figuring out what people do and do not know is superior to speculation. But assessments alone are not enough. The primary objective of identifying gaps is to tailor the training to fill them. In this regard, I have been an abject failure in speaking to law school classes.

I speak to law school classes for free. I provide them a copy of my Legal Technology Assessment (“LTA”) for free. I then provide a copy of the LTA Training Edition (which pairs the competence-based assessment with synchronous, active learning) for free. Finally, they can retake the LTA (for free). Not only do have the opportunity to address identified deficiencies in their skill but a qualifying score is also something they can add to the bottom of their resume to replace the meaningless “proficient in MS Office.” After speaking to hundreds upon hundreds of students, I’ve had exactly zero take me up on my full offer.

The class I wrote about last week is representative. Twelve students took the LTA because it was a class assignment. The results (below) were bad, as usual. I spoke to them for 40 minutes and offered the Training Edition to anyone who wanted it. Only two of the twelve emailed to ask for the Training Edition. And, if history is any guide, neither of them will return to take and pass the LTA.

In approaching these classes, my idea is that taking the LTA beforehand will puncture delusions of adequacy. We won’t get bogged down in an abstract conversation about how fluent they are with technology. 32% correct on some fairly simple Word tasks leaves little room for debate:

Pretty bad but not unexpected. As I try to communicate to them, it is not their fault. Everyone just assumes that they know things that they had no way of knowing absent training. They are not stupid, lazy, or untalented. They are smart, hard working, and full of promise. They simply lack training in one particular area that has the potential to make their lives better.

On the issue of their immediate future, I point out that their most recent predecessors are miserable human beings. In fact, the students are auditioning for the unhappiest job in America.

I then try to persuade them that technology plays a role in this dissatisfaction. Before technology takes our jobs, it can make them easier. At least, in theory. The technology has to actually be good, and we have to use it correctly. Otherwise, it is a source of frustration rather than leverage. Technology initially substitutes for labor at the most severe pain points. Machines can reduce the hours spent reviewing, proofing, conforming, collating, updating, and otherwise fiddling around the edges of the substantive legal work. Using technology well can improve both speed and accuracy, as I try to convey in the video below, and thereby alleviate a fair amount of the agony associated with being a young lawyer:

My contention is that having the right technology and learning to use it correctly will permit legal professionals to reduce the amount of their finite time and attention that is directed towards misery-inducing busywork. I’ve added to my spiel some recent confirmation of this theory from the cover story of last month’s American Lawyer. AmLaw’s annual associate satisfaction survey found that technology, including technology training, has a material effect on satisfaction:

One unsung key to retention could be technology. We found that overall satisfaction of midlevel associates, as measured on our survey, was strongly statistically correlated to their law firm’s scores on four questions involving technology. (The questions ask respondents to rate their firms’ technology generally, as well as technology training, support and use of technology in meeting client needs.) 

….In fact, eight of the top 11 firms in the national satisfaction rankings also were at the top on the technology questions. Conversely, many of the firms that occupy the bottom of the national satisfaction rankings also place low in the technology survey.

The AmLaw conclusions comport with an earlier study I cite from the National Conference of Bar Examiners that surveyed recent law graduates about the most important skills for young lawyers. Out of 30 skills, using basic office technology ranked 6th:

Seeing basic office technology ahead of legal reasoning is a bit jarring, even for me. But the incongruence is heightened by the fact that, unlike the rest of the skills listed above, using technology is not taught in most law schools (or, generally, in most colleges or high schools). 
Then again, the idea that law school is not geared towards turning out practice-ready lawyers is well-worn territory. As discussed in Mark’s previous post, a LexisNexis survey found that “95% of hiring partners and associates believe that recently graduated law students lack key practical skills.” The dissatisfaction of associates is mirrored (and, maybe partially driven) by the dissatisfaction with associates. This is not just abstract griping. Anecdotally, partners report writing off massive amounts of associate time for perceived inefficiency. These claims appear to be borne out by the Georgetown Law and Peer Monitor realization data (which I dug into here):
 

So that’s my story. You’re great. You just haven’t gotten the training you need in technology. This training will benefit you directly in the form of improved satisfaction and performance. Here it is, for free. Followed by crickets.

I’m not quite sure how to interpret my utter inability to make any progress with these students (thankfully, the people who actually pay me are considerably more engaged). Am I, yet again, suffering from the curse of knowledge? Is there some assumption that I am making about these students that is impeding communication? As I try to put myself in their shoes, I increasingly come to conclusion that there isn’t anything I can say.

In general, it is challenging to get anyone to use their precious spare time to buckle down and really learn something new, even if they are persuaded that they should. The last time I decided to tackle a new area of study, I felt compelled to pay for online courses that included tests and graded assignments. I needed real stakes and real structure to have the discipline to systematically engage with the material (all of which I could have found for free on the internet). Here, the students took the LTA as a diagnostic because it was an assignment, and, I have no doubt, that they would have trained for and passed the LTA if that were assigned. As a law student, I suspect I would have behaved much the same way (I know my scores would have been just as bad).

Stakes and structure matter. These students have had both all their life. From speaking to them, I get the sense that they believe this will continue. They believe that law school is designed to prepare them for law practice. They believe that whatever they do not know upon leaving law school, their firms will teach them. And, more than anything, they believe that they do not need to worry about this tech stuff because they will have secretaries to do it for them. More on that last point in my next post.

For me, the primary myth of the digital native is that, by virtue of their age, they already know what they need to know with respect to using technology. The corollary myth is that which they do not already know is not worth learning. But there exists a softer formulation that hits much closer to the truth. Rather than automatically knowing that which they need to know with respect to technology, we (and they) tend to believe that people who grew up with technology have the capacity to learn it and will do so when the situation requires. It’s that last part, however, where there continues to be a disconnect.

The older generations seem to think that the situation will somehow mandate the acquisition of new skills. In this, they are not totally wrong. Most people, including the older generations themselves (with their fancy new iPhones and Surface Pro 4’s), learn what they need to learn to get by with technology. Some people learn more. But most satisfy the bare threshold of survival. This results in massive underutilization of extant technology. And study after study has shown that younger generations are the same as their predecessors in this regard–i.e., learn the minimum to get by.

The younger generations, on the other hand, think that they will quite literally be required to learn it. Someone in a position of authority is going to lay out a curriculum, objectives, and a timeline. At that point, they will do what they’ve always done: work hard to meet the expectations set for them. A few will fall short. Some will excel. But most will quite effectively do what they are asked to do. I, for one, think we ought to oblige them.

At some point, I will dig deep into my data. But, on average, people (lawyers and staff) in practice outperform the kids in school on the LTA. In part, this reflects a general raising of the baseline as the skill set required for bare survival expands upon entering the professional workforce. But there is still significant interorganizational and intraorganizational variance.

The variance between organizations appears to be entirely attributable to mandatory training. Different organizations have different attitudes towards training (is it available, is it mandatory, does it include competence-based assessments) that, unsurprisingly, have an appreciable impact on how well trained their employees are. The variance within organizations stems from outside training. Frequently, I learn that the person who outpaced her colleagues on a diagnostic assessment had some previous career that demanded a more robust technology skill set. Sometimes, I meet people who, like me, had some sort of rude awakening and decided they did not like being embarrassed. Every now and then, I encounter a true tech geek (meant with love and affection) who happens to also work in law. My own data reinforces previous empirical findings that, rather than age, facility with technology is a product of “breadth of use, experience, self-efficacy and education.”

Technology training is important for everyone, including the digital natives. I just wish I could convince them of that.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Casey Flaherty is the founder of Procertas. He is a lawyer, consultant, writer, and speaker focused on achieving the right legal outcomes with the right people doing the right work the right way at the right price. Casey created the Service Delivery Review (f.k.a., the Legal Tech Audit), a strategic-sourcing tool that drives deeper supplier relationships by facilitating structured dialogue between law firms and clients. There is more than enough slack in the legal market for clients to get higher quality work at lower cost while law firms increase profits via improved realizations.
The premise of the Service Delivery Review is that with people and pricing in place, rigorous collaboration on process offers the real levers to drive continuous improvement. Proper collaboration means involving nontraditional stakeholders. A prime example is addressing the need for more training on existing technology. One obstacle is that traditional technology training methods are terribleCompetence-based assessments paired with synchronous, active learning offer a better path forward. Following these principles, Casey created the Legal Technology Assessment platform to reduce total training time, enhance training effectiveness, and deliver benchmarked results.

Connect with Casey on LinkedIn or follow him Twitter (@DCaseyF).

I am disappointed every time I guest lecture a law school class.

Because anecdote is often more compelling than data, I’ll start with an example from two weeks ago. An adjunct professor who teaches one of those great law school classes with cool titles like Tomorrow’s Lawyer had his students take the Word module of my Legal Tech Assessment. They performed exactly as you (well, I) would expect of an untrained group: poorly. Their anonymized scores are below:

I’ll explain the scoring in a subsequent post. But, for now, just focus on the accuracy. On average, students were able to correctly complete less than a third of the following tasks in a live Word document:

  • Accept/Turn-off changes and comments
  • Cut & Paste
  • Replace text
  • Format text (font, margin)
  • Footers
  • Insert hyperlink
  • Apply/Modify style
  • Insert/Update cross-references
  • Insert page break
  • Insert non-breaking space
  • Clean document properties
  • Create comparison document

To put it in anecdotal context (though these numbers are representative of the larger data set), around the same time the class was taking the assessment, a similarly-sized pilot group at a large law firm achieved an average accuracy of 68% while a group of lawyers and staff who had just been through LTA-specific training achieved an average accuracy of 95%. Training matters.

Training matters even for so-called digital natives like the law school students I’ve tested. Acquiring a Twitter account in utero does not engender natural facility with technological tools because most technological tools are not intuitive.

My wife thinks my sons are geniuses. One piece of evidence she submits in their favor is how well they use an iPad. I agree with her that the fact that my 1.5 year old can use an iPad is a testament to genius. But not his. For me, it is a testament to the genius of the designers at Apple who created a device so intuitive that 1.5 year old can use it. The kid touches a picture, it moves. Congratulations to him!

While we can discuss design principles that would move work software in the direction of our consumer experience, I don’t actually believe that individual apps are the best basis of comparison for complex business software. Rather than thinking of Word as an app, we should think of it as a bundle of apps. Each of the icons on the ribbon is a solution to a particular problem. The challenge is that there are so many icons (just as there are so many apps). While design principles can bridge some of the gap, there remains a tradeoff between depth and intuitiveness. Most of us therefore only become comfortable with a few functions while ignoring the rest (just as most of us use a limited number of mostly single-purpose apps):

In this, the younger generation is no different than their predecessors. Survival is the threshold they achieve with most of their technology. That their milieu demands facility with a few more social apps sooner does not change the fundamental fact that using technology properly is a collection of acquired skills, not some innate talent that Lamarckian evolution bestowed on those under the age of 30. Expecting them to automatically know how to use complicated technology because of their familiarity with basic technology is like expecting them to automatically know how to prepare a gourmet meal because they know how to cook a Hot Pocket in the microwave.

Digital native first entered the popular lexicon in 2001. In an article entitled Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants, education consultant Marc Prensky explained that “Our students today are all ‘native speakers’ of the digital language of computers, video games and the Internet.” In many respects, the article looks terrible 14 years later. Prensky, for example, speaks glowingly of Digital Natives’ ability to multi-task, despite the fact that contemporary research (subsequently extended and validated) had already demonstrated the opposite. But just because it suffers from some poor assumptions and hyperbole (Prensky claims we’ve already arrived at a singularity) does not mean the thesis needs to be totally rejected.

You can reconcile (i) a belief that, on average, younger generations are more accustomed to technology (and the rapid evolution thereof) than their predecessors with (ii) the recognition that this comfort does not automatically translate into proficiency. Indeed, in his seminal article, Prensky talks about the need to train a bunch of Digital Natives on a CAD program that “contained hundreds of new buttons, options and approaches.” Prensky takes pride in efforts to gamify the training and “create a series of graded tasks into which the skills to be learned were embedded.” For Prensky, this approach translated training into the language of the Digital Native. He reports that the main impediment was the reluctance of the Digital Immigrant professors to adjust their pedagogical approach. But even Prensky realized that the Digital Natives still needed training (competence-based assessments paired with synchronous, active learning).

Prensky’s article was anecdotal, not empirical. It did not address the fact that most of what Digital Natives did with technology was related to consumption, not application. It also ignored the inconvenient fact that it was Digital Immigrants who had invented the technologies on which the Digital Natives relied. And it introduced a term that conflates general familiarity with specific facility. A decade later, the London School of Economics would publish a paper entitled Digital natives: where is the evidence? The paper concluded that there was no real evidence of fundamental differences between generations. What differences existed were best explained by “breadth of use, experience, self-efficacy and education.” Or as another academic paper would find:

Young people’s engagements with digital technologies are varied and often unspectacular – in stark contrast to popular portrayals of the digital native. As such, the paper highlights a misplaced technological and biological determinism that underpins current portrayals of children, young people and digital technology.

Subsequently, the Organization of Economically Developed Countries (OECD) ran an international study. Instead of asking people about their general comfort with technology, the study asked them to actually solve basic problems using technology (again, a competence-based assessment). Millennials did not fare well. In the words of The Washington Post, “U.S. millennials performed horribly.” Or, as Fortune summarized it:

We hear about the superior tech savvy of people born after 1980 so often that we tend to assume it must be true. But is it?

…. It turns out, says a new report, that Millennials in the U.S. fall short when it comes to the skills employers want most: literacy (including the ability to follow simple instructions), practical math, and — hold on to your hat — a category called “problem-solving in technology-rich environments.”

The advocacy group Change the Equation put out a related report about the High Cost of Low Technology Skills, which included the following graphics:

Digital natives are not at fault for the fact that comfort does not automatically translate into skill. The myths surrounding the digital native, however, have done them a disservice. The belief that they already know everything about technology has convinced us and them that they do not need training in technology. As discussed in the last post, the notion that they are already tech savvy introduces barriers associated with metacognition and mindset.

Metacognition is thinking about thinking. The related concept of metaignorance is ignorance about our own ignorance. We don’t know what we don’t know. Not recognizing how incompetent we are results in unfounded confidence in our own skill level. For this reason, the people most in need of training are the least likely to recognize it. Moreover, confidence begets ego. Those who have a high opinion of themselves are the least inclined to admit facts that undermine their self image.

The problems of ego are compounded by mindset. People with a fixed mindset believe that cognitive traits are stable. You are either smart or you aren’t in the same way that you are either tall or you aren’t. You are born with it, or you are not. To the extent tech acumen is treated as product of age, it will be approached with a fixed mindset, which means that people will try to hide their deficiencies rather than recognize and remedy them.

Because we take a fixed mindset approach, we tend to act as if neither older professionals nor younger professionals will benefit from training. The former because they lack the capacity. The latter because they lack the need. We are wrong on both counts.

I am not trying to pick on anyone. I understand why both older and younger generations buy into the myths surrounding digital natives. But they are myths with pernicious consequences. Many of the decisions about training (or lack thereof) made at law schools and legal employers rest on an illusory foundation. It isn’t always what we don’t know that gives us trouble, it’s often what we know that ain’t so. 

Part 2 (originally posted separately)

90% of people don’t know how to use CTRL+F to find a word in a document or web page. Instead, they search the old-fashioned way, manually skimming the text.

This preponderance of ignorance is stupefying to me. But I want to be very clear that I am using the word “ignorance” in its most neutral form–i.e., lack of information or knowledge–rather than to convey any judgment or pejorative connotation. Ignorance is unavoidable. The only settled part of the debate as to who was the last person to know everything is that the person is long dead.

The curse of ignorance is that you don’t know what you don’t know. Previous posts have touched on this obstacle of metacognition, and our ignorance of our own ignorance. But there is another side of the coin: the curse of knowledge. The curse of knowledge is that once we know something, it is really hard to imagine not knowing it. This incapacity undermines communication and, especially, instruction because of the lack of shared information and assumptions. If I, for example, were going to put together some tips on internet research, I doubt that, absent the article cited above, I would have thought to include CTRL+F. I would have assumed that most everyone already knew it. I would have been wrong.

Indeed, I am a posterchild for both curses. I’ve told the story many times that my inflection point in using technology involved a client discovering that I printed and scanned to create PDFs. But how was I supposed to know what I didn’t know–there’s an app for that–without already knowing it? Yet, several years later, I delegated a task where one of the steps involved converting a large volume of documents into PDF. I was shocked (shocked!!!) to find that the person was spending hours scanning and printing. I assumed that because I knew how to convert a file to PDF, they knew it, too, despite the fact that I had been Exhibit A that this was not knowledge everyone possessed.

Thus, whether we know something or not, we too often assume that others know it. The tech-averse frequently fall into the trap of thinking the tech-comfortable know everything there is to know about tech (i.e., they can’t tell the difference between someone who knows slight more than them and someone who knows infinitely more than them). And those who know tech sometimes assume that their tech knowledge is widely shared.

Both curses are reason that competence-based assessments are such excellent training tools. Figuring out what people do and do not know is superior to speculation. But assessments alone are not enough. The primary objective of identifying gaps is to tailor the training to fill them. In this regard, I have been an abject failure in speaking to law school classes.

I speak to law school classes for free. I provide them a copy of my Legal Technology Assessment (“LTA”) for free. I then provide a copy of the LTA Training Edition (which pairs the competence-based assessment with synchronous, active learning) for free. Finally, they can retake the LTA (for free). Not only do have the opportunity to address identified deficiencies in their skill set but a qualifying score is also something they can add to the bottom of their resume to replace the meaningless “proficient in MS Office.” After speaking to hundreds upon hundreds of students, I’ve had exactly zero take me up on my full offer.

The class I wrote about last week is representative. Twelve students took the LTA because it was a class assignment. The results (below) were bad, as usual. I spoke to them for 40 minutes and offered the Training Edition to anyone who wanted it. Only two of the twelve emailed to ask for the Training Edition. And, if history is any guide, neither of them will return to take and pass the LTA.

In approaching these classes, my idea is that taking the LTA beforehand will puncture delusions of adequacy. We won’t get bogged down in an abstract conversation about how fluent they are with technology. 32% correct on some fairly simple Word tasks leaves little room for debate:

Pretty bad but not unexpected. As I try to communicate to them, it is not their fault. Everyone just assumes that they know things that they had no way of knowing absent training. They are not stupid, lazy, or untalented. They are smart, hard working, and full of promise. They simply lack training in one particular area that has the potential to make their lives better.

On the issue of their immediate future, I point out that their most recent predecessors are miserable human beings. In fact, the students are auditioning for the unhappiest job in America.

I then try to persuade them that technology plays a role in this dissatisfaction. Before technology takes our jobs, it can make them easier. At least, in theory. The technology has to actually be good, and we have to use it correctly. Otherwise, it is a source of frustration rather than leverage. Technology initially substitutes for labor at the most severe pain points. Machines can reduce the hours spent reviewing, proofing, conforming, collating, updating, and otherwise fiddling around the edges of the substantive legal work. Using technology well can improve both speed and accuracy, as I try to convey in the video below, and thereby alleviate a fair amount of the agony associated with being a young lawyer:

My contention is that having the right technology and learning to use it correctly will permit legal professionals to reduce the amount of their finite time and attention that is directed towards misery-inducing busywork. I’ve added to my spiel some recent confirmation of this theory from the cover story of last month’s American Lawyer. AmLaw’s annual associate satisfaction survey found that technology, including technology training, has a material effect on satisfaction:

One unsung key to retention could be technology. We found that overall satisfaction of midlevel associates, as measured on our survey, was strongly statistically correlated to their law firm’s scores on four questions involving technology. (The questions ask respondents to rate their firms’ technology generally, as well as technology training, support and use of technology in meeting client needs.) 

….In fact, eight of the top 11 firms in the national satisfaction rankings also were at the top on the technology questions. Conversely, many of the firms that occupy the bottom of the national satisfaction rankings also place low in the technology survey.

The AmLaw conclusions comport with an earlier study I cite from the National Conference of Bar Examiners that surveyed recent law graduates about the most important skills for young lawyersOut of 30 skills, using basic office technology ranked 6th:

Seeing basic office technology ahead of legal reasoning is a bit jarring, even for me. But the incongruence is heightened by the fact that, unlike the rest of the skills listed above, using technology is not taught in most law schools (or, generally, in most colleges or high schools). 
Then again, the idea that law school is not geared towards turning out practice-ready lawyers is well-worn territory. As discussed in Mark’s previous post, a LexisNexis survey found that “95% of hiring partners and associates believe that recently graduated law students lack key practical skills.” The dissatisfaction of associates is mirrored (and, maybe partially driven) by the dissatisfaction with associates. This is not just abstract griping. Anecdotally, partners report writing off massive amounts of associate time for perceived inefficiency. These claims appear to be borne out by the Georgetown Law and Peer Monitor realization data (which I dug into here):
 

So that’s my story. You’re great. You just haven’t gotten the training you need in technology. This training will benefit you directly in the form of improved satisfaction and performance. Here it is, for free. Followed by crickets.

I’m not quite sure how to interpret my utter inability to make any progress with these students (thankfully, the people who actually pay me are considerably more engaged). Am I, yet again, suffering from the curse of knowledge? Is there some assumption that I am making about these students that is impeding communication? As I try to put myself in their shoes, I increasingly come to conclusion that there isn’t anything I can say.

In general, it is challenging to get anyone to use their precious spare time to buckle down and really learn something new, even if they are persuaded that they should. The last time I decided to tackle a new area of study, I felt compelled to pay for online courses that included tests and graded assignments. I needed real stakes and real structure to have the discipline to systematically engage with the material (all of which I could have found for free on the internet). Here, the students took the LTA as a diagnostic because it was an assignment, and, I have no doubt, that they would have trained for and passed the LTA if that were also assigned. As a law student, I suspect I would have behaved much the same way (I know my scores would have been just as bad).

Stakes and structure matter. These students have had both all their life. From speaking to them, I get the sense that they believe this will continue. They believe that law school is designed to prepare them for law practice. They believe that whatever they do not know upon leaving law school, their firms will teach them. And, more than anything, they believe that they do not need to worry about this tech stuff because they will have secretaries to do it for them. More on that last point in my next post.

For me, the primary myth of the digital native is that, by virtue of their age, they already know what they need to know with respect to using technology. The corollary myth is that which they do not already know is not worth learning. But there exists a softer formulation that hits much closer to the truth. Rather than automatically knowing that which they need to know with respect to technology, we (and they) tend to believe that people who grew up with technology have the capacity to learn it and will do so when the situation requires.

The older generations seem to think that the situation will somehow mandate the acquisition of new skills. In this, they are not totally wrong. Most people, including the older generations themselves (with their fancy new iPhones and Surface Pro 4’s), learn what they need to learn to get by with technology. Some people learn more. But most satisfy the bare threshold of survival. This results in massive underutilization of extant technology. And study after study has shown that younger generations are the same as their predecessors in this regard–i.e., learn the minimum to get by.

The younger generations, on the other hand, think that they will quite literally be required to learn it. Someone in a position of authority is going to lay out a curriculum, objectives, and a timeline. At that point, they will do what they’ve always done: work hard to meet the expectations set for them. A few will fall short. Some will excel. But most will quite effectively do what they are asked to do. I, for one, think we ought to oblige them.

At some point, I will dig deep into my data. But, on average, people (lawyers and staff) in practice outperform the kids in school on the LTA. In part, this reflects a general raising of the baseline as the skill set required for bare survival expands upon entering the professional workforce. But there is still significant interorganizational and intraorganizational variance.

The variance between organizations appears to be entirely attributable to mandatory training. Different organizations have different attitudes towards training (is it available, is it mandatory, does it include competence-based assessments) that, unsurprisingly, have an appreciable impact on how well trained their employees are.

The variance within organizations stems from outside training. Frequently, I learn that the person who well outpaced her colleagues on a diagnostic assessment had some previous career that demanded a more robust technology skill set. Sometimes, I meet people who, like me, had some sort of rude awakening and decided they did not like being embarrassed. Every now and then, I encounter a true tech geek (meant with love and affection) who happens to also work in law.

My own data reinforces previous empirical empirical findings that, rather than age, facility with technology is a product of “breadth of use, experience, self-efficacy and education.” Technology training is important for everyone, including the digital natives. I just wish I could convince them of that.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Casey Flaherty is the founder of Procertas. He is a lawyer, consultant, writer, and speaker focused on achieving the right legal outcomes with the right people doing the right work the right way at the right price. Casey created the Service Delivery Review (f.k.a., the Legal Tech Audit), a strategic-sourcing tool that drives deeper supplier relationships by facilitating structured dialogue between law firms and clients. There is more than enough slack in the legal market for clients to get higher quality work at lower cost while law firms increase profits via improved realizations.
The premise of the Service Delivery Review is that with people and pricing in place, rigorous collaboration on process offers the real levers to drive continuous improvement. Proper collaboration means involving nontraditional stakeholders. A prime example is addressing the need for more training on existing technology. One obstacle is that traditional technology training methods are terribleCompetence-based assessments paired with synchronous, active learning offer a better path forward. Following these principles, Casey created the Legal Technology Assessment platform to reduce total training time, enhance training effectiveness, and deliver benchmarked results.

Connect with Casey on LinkedIn or follow him Twitter (@DCaseyF).

Technology training is important. Competence-based assessments are a great technology training tool. At the outset, assessments permit trainees to test out of training they do not need. By identifying competencies and deficiencies, assessments serve as the basis for tailored training plans. Assessments then validate that training has been effective.

As formulated above, training occurs separate from the competence-based assessments. It need not be this way. Competence-based assessments can be paired with synchronous, active learning to deliver an immediate, individualized training curriculum.

Synchronous learning is premised on immediate feedback. A standard assessment runs the trainee through a series of tasks and returns a score at the conclusion of the assessment. The scoresheet identifies what was missed and serves as a guide to remedial training. By contrast, a training assessment informs the trainee after each individual task whether or not they performed the task correctly. If the trainee performs the task correctly, they move on. If the trainee performs a task incorrectly, the trainee can hit a Back button and then a Help button to get immediate training (e.g., a video walkthrough). Once the training is complete, the trainee can try the task again. A synchronous training loop is created: try->feedback->train->try->succeed.

The “try” links in the loop are the active component of the learning. Rather than passively taking in a demonstration, active learning permits the trainee to practice the target skill. How much practice is needed varies by trainee. The advantages of active learning for skill acquisition and retention has considerable support in the pedagogical literature.

To provide a concrete example, imagine training on a simple Word function like Turn Off Track Changes. Traditionally, a trainer or video would demonstrate the steps. Depending on how in-depth they wanted to get, the demonstration might take between 1 and 3 minutes. A trainee utilizing a competence-based assessment and already familiar with the function would perform the task in about 10 seconds. They could move directly to the next task instead of sitting through unnecessary training. 

A trainee unfamiliar with the function would still be prompted to try to figure it out. That is, the live environment encourages them to explore and engage. If they are unable to come to the right conclusion through their own efforts, they are, upon hitting the Submit button, informed that they did not perform the task correctly. They can then hit the Back and Help buttons to go through the training. The trainee then re-attempts the task and, if necessary, reviews the training, until they complete the task correctly. If they prove unable to get it on their own, the trainee and the task demand the personal attention of a professional trainer.

In the above scenario, every trainee eventually demonstrates the ability to use the function. In traditional training, all we know is they sat through a demonstration. Likewise, in traditional training, ever trainee sits through every demonstration regardless of their pre-existing knowledge. With competence-based assessments paired with synchronous, learning, total training time is drastically reduced because no one has to re-learn that which they demonstrably know.

Importantly, competence-based assessments paired with synchronous, active learning do not replace professional trainers. The machine is an augmentation that ensures that the trainer’s time is properly leveraged.  First, we are in the nascent stages of computer-mediated training. There are very few tools for which competence-based assessment and synchronous, active learning are currently available. Second, even when the machine can deliver training content synchronously, the content being delivered is still the product of professional trainers. Third, computer-mediated training is an intermediary step that identifies who requires live training. The assessment convinces the user of the need and provides the trainer with a list of identified deficiencies that the user has been unable to address through self-directed learning.

I want to make training more efficient and effective because I am so convinced of its importance. “Legal rules and procedures, when placed alongside ever-changing technology, produce professional challenges that attorneys must meet to remain competent.” Training is essential to meeting these challenges.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
Casey Flaherty is the founder of Procertas. He is a lawyer, consultant, writer, and speaker focused on achieving the right legal outcomes with the right people doing the right work the right way at the right price. Casey created the Service Delivery Review (f.k.a., the Legal Tech Audit), a strategic-sourcing tool that drives deeper supplier relationships by facilitating structured dialogue between law firms and clients. There is more than enough slack in the legal market for clients to get higher quality work at lower cost while law firms increase profits via improved realizations.
The premise of the Service Delivery Review is that with people and pricing in place, rigorous collaboration on process offers the real levers to drive continuous improvement. Proper collaboration means involving nontraditional stakeholders. A prime example is addressing the need for more training on existing technology. One obstacle is that traditional technology training methods are terribleCompetence-based assessments paired with synchronous, active learning offer a better path forward. Following these principles, Casey created the Legal Technology Assessment platform to reduce total training time, enhance training effectiveness, and deliver benchmarked results.
Connect with Casey on LinkedIn or follow him Twitter (@DCaseyF).
confused!
Image [cc] Ian Harvey

ALM Legal Intelligence released a new survey today called “Turf Wars: Defining New Roles and Competing for New Territories” where they have found that law firm morale concerns have moved away from focusing on layoffs, and moved over to issues of compensation and training. I have not read the report, only the news wire email that they sent to me, but there are a number of things that show up in the press release that make a lot of sense in the post-great recession era.

According to the press release, there are three factors that are common in law firms:

  1. Too much “dead weight” in the firm
  2. Compensation is lower than peer firms
  3. Too much work for current staffing levels

I’m going to throw out #2 on the list and focus on #1 & #3, as they seem to be very much related.

Anyone that has worked in a law firm in the past five years knows that firms took on a “more with less” approach in 2009. Although lawyer headcount may be down at many firms, I think that most of us would agree that the more with less approach has weighed most heavily on the supporting staff at law firms. The trends have been to reduce Secretaries to 4:1 or higher ratios, hiring freezes, or reduction in staff by natural (or encouraged) attrition has caused changes in the lawyer to staff ratios at most firms. At the time, many of us commented that the Great Recession finally forced firms to make reduction in staffing that should have been made years ago. However, according to the ALM survey, did firms end up losing good people, and retaining those that are now seen as “dead weight”?

Firms are now attempting to define the strategy of reducing staff levels to a x:1 ratio. Do secretaries simply keep maintaining their traditional roles and job functions, only with more attorneys to cover? Or, do secretaries become technology specialists or some other ‘new’ function? Do Records personnel now expand into Risk Management roles? Do Librarians become research and resource analysts? Does IT shift to user experience advocates? If so, have firms stepped up to actually train and support these changes?

It would be interesting to see if what the survey is defining as “dead weight” is really those people within the firm that have been expected to take on new roles and responsibilities, but haven’t received the proper training or support to actually succeed in those new roles. Great plans without actual changes in structure and support through training is doomed to fail. I think that is a reason behind firms finding that they face the dichotomy of too much dead weight staff, yet have too much work for the current staff to handle.

Fuller Classroom with elephant
Image [cc] PainterWoman

Training… something we do every year for incoming Fall Associates, yet somehow most of us walk away feeling like we really didn’t help integrate the newbie lawyers into the firm the way we’d really like. Of course, many of the Associates are too concerned with the billable matter that was assigned to them right before the training began, to worry about little things like learning how we bill back to the client for our online resources, or file items in the DMS, or reserve meeting rooms. So, we asked if we could start over, and create the training the way we really wanted, how would you do it?

There were some themes that ran through the answers. Two specifically.

  1. Real Simulations (bring your work to class)
  2. Make Training Mandatory (no billable work assigned until training is completed

There were a couple of other items that stood out to me. First, one of the answers expanded our Fall Associate idea to all lateral hires. We tend to think that Fall Associates have certain technology skills (which they don’t), but even worse, we assume that Lateral hires understand all of the basic principles of how a law firm works (which they don’t.)

The other item that stood out to me was about the format of training. It doesn’t have to be classroom style, and it doesn’t have to be a set time for everyone. Why not have parts of the training set up as on-demand style and let the Associates take the training at their own pace (of course, they still have to actually do the on-demand training.)

Lots of good stuff. If you didn’t get a chance to submit your own answer, there’s still the option of putting it in the comments.

(1) Adam Ziegler

  1. “Real” simulations, with immediate, direct, high impact feedback from supervising lawyers. For litigators, this might include drafting a small-bore motion (like a protective order motion), a discovery meet-and-confer, taking a minor deposition, a substantive legal brief, a client meeting. Impose time limits. Reward for out-performance.
  2. Basic, practical tech training, both “how to” and “best practices.” Excel, Word [e.g. redlining], Dropbox/Box, PPT, Outlook. Reward for out-performance.
  3. Business development, marketing and networking. Off-line and online activities. Set specific goals, measure and report, and reward for out-performance.
  4. Creative, collaborative problem-solving. Give small teams of associates a tiny budget and very short window of time, and require them to identify a discrete problem relevant to practice area, build a prototype solution and pitch it to the entire group. Reward for and implementation of best work.

(2) Steve

I have one word that would help more than any other: “Mandatory”

Actually, now that I think about it, two words, “Mandatory” and “Graded” (applied to both the Associate, and the Partner responsible for that Associate.)

The biggest pitfall of training is the dreaded “I can’t go because Partner X has given me an assignment.” If there is no reprecussions from skipping training, or forcing Associates to pick between training and actually working on something that counts as billable time, then training will always come in second. By putting some accountability on both the Associate and the Partner, the firm shows that training is important and that everyone is expected to do whatever is needed to make sure that the newbies learn the ropes of the way work is performed at the firm.

(3) Anonymous

  1. Make training mandatory.
  2. Remind partners/mentors/supervisoring attorneys that training is for the benefit of the new associate and is mandatory.
  3. Have real life scenarios in training sessions.
  4. Implement quizzes during training (especially for library & IT.)

(4) Anonymous

I would do two things:

  1. Provide a 45-60 minute individual training orientation to the new associate on the print and electronic resources that are of general applicability, and also specific to their practice. Give them an opportunity to ask questions about the resources. I would also use this time to provide helpful knowledge and insight as to how the firm is organized and operates.
  2. Provide a once-yearly, 1.5 hour universal session to all new associates to showcase and optimize the firm resources available to them. The session would demonstrate why the resources are relevant to their law practice, and provide instruction as to how to access and search them. The underlying theme of the session would be to transition the associates from law school theory to real world practice.

(5) Anonymous

I can’t wait to see what others say! I just wanted to drop a line and suggest that training (at least at big law) should also include laterals. I was a five-year government lawyer went I went to big law. I was given a day of training on the office computer system. I had no idea how to use a copier that required a user ID and matter number. (I was told to have someone else make the copies). I also had no idea how to bill or even how to drum up assignments. (Certainly those were necessary skills). Not that any of it really mattered. I didn’t have a performance review until year 5. But then again, big law hired me as a staff attorney or third-class citizen.

(6) Anonymous
Our concept of the ideal fall associate training program, including library orientation, would start with a multi-disciplinary group (MDG) composed of representatives from various departments responsible for providing information to new hires. This group, working with the departments, would select and centralize resources (handouts, handbooks, recordings, etc.) and make them available to the fall associates in an online environment (e.g., SharePoint). SharePoint would also provide a place where the MDG could share information with each other (e.g., associate names, practice groups, start dates).

A timeline and deadlines (e.g., calendared appointment reminders) would keep associates on track in reviewing resources, tests would be incorporated into the process and some review would be mandatory. The MDG would schedule live sessions or in-person meetings. Fall associates could review resources as needed after completing orientation.

In the library, brief audio and/or video presentations providing just-in-time information would be accessible via a mobile platform for ease of access. We would link appropriate resource use to associate evaluations.

Attendance and successful test completion would be automatically tracked online and metrics would be compared against benchmarks (in the case of the library, use and cost benchmarks) to determine success.

Elephant Train
Image [cc] Venson Kuchipudi

It’s Fall Associate time again. Newly minted law school graduates, fresh off their taking of the State Bar Exams, are moving into those empty windowed offices, given a computer, assigned one-fourth of a secretary, and told to start working toward hitting the benchmark of 635 billable hours for the rest of the year. In the first few weeks there is some formal training set up for the associates, which the Associate may or may not be required to attend. After having informal conversations with many of my peers, the common reaction when I mention training ranges from an uncomfortable chuckle, to a full-on eye-rolling and physical shutter.

Therefore, I thought that a great Elephant Post question would be to ask our readers to comment on how they would like training of Fall Associates to be structured. So, let us know:

If You Could Have A Blank Canvas, How Would You Set Up Fall Associate Training For Your Area?

Once again, here are the rules for answering the EP:

  • Fill out the form below, or email me (xlambert at gmail dot com) with your answer
  • You can give us your real name or stay anonymous
  • I’ll put out the answers on Friday
  • Just let us know what you think… it’ll make you feel better, and it will help your peers by knowing they are not alone in their pain
  • You can see what others have answered here

While I was in Seattle at the 2013 AALL Conference, I had a chance to listen to, and briefly talk to Casey Flaherty of Kia Motors America, Inc. As many of you have read recently, Casey is making waves by giving his outside counsel some basic skills tests on how long it takes them to update contract language via MS Word, print to Adobe Acrobat, and resorting MS Excel lists. His testing of ten outside law firms associates (9 total firms and 1 took it twice) came back with all ten failing his technology competency audit.

He gives one example in most of his talks where an additional indented sentence is added into a contract. He shows the crowd what should take about 12 seconds to do (if the attorney is tech savvy and understands form automation tools), usually takes about 10 minutes for most attorneys to complete because they are manually updating paragraph numbers and reformatting the document piece by piece.

Now, the question I presented to him was this:

Why should the associate be the one doing the word processing updates in the first place?
Shouldn’t those tasks be assigned to Secretaries or WP Staff members who:
1. know how to use the resources effectively and
2. are either billed at a much lower rate or aren’t billed at all?

His answer was a bit simplistic, but typical of today’s corporate counsel expectations (I am completely paraphrasing his response):

Technology is so entrenched in the day to day operations of the associate, that it is expected that they have (or should have) the skills to complete these simple tasks so quickly that it doesn’t make sense to outsource it to a secretary or Word Processing Department.

Implied in that paraphrased answer was the idea that even if it went to WP, the lawyer would still review it (and charge for his or her time), so why add in an extra layer of work to do such a simple task that the lawyer should know how to do already.

Here’s a couple of observations that I walked away from Flaherty’s talk:

  1. Flaherty is either going to be a hero or a goat for discussing this and calling out his outside counsel for having such poor tech skills, and that his ‘tech audit’ is simply the beginning (he is also asking for access to daily time entry by firms so he can find associates that are billing .3 hours to 10 different matters each day, or those that enter time in weeks after the work was actually performed.)
  2. The basic message that Flaherty is giving is that:
    a. Corporate Counsel simply have lost trust in the firms they hire (this is the biggie!!)
    b. Poor skills equal higher costs billed to the clients
    c. Firms that bill by the hour have no incentive to improve these skills
    d. Clients will need to be the drivers to improve the skills required of their outside counsel
    e. Clients will either need to negotiate alternative fee arrangements with outside counsel, or
    f. Clients will need to assess skills and decrease fees for those firms that fail these skill tests
    g. Clients will need to monitor firms more closely, and even require firms to disclose processes used (such as up-to-the-day time entry exposure on all of the client’s work) and force changes that are deemed, by the client, to be inefficient.
  3. There are ‘opportunities’ for firms as well:
    a. Firms that work on tech skills and pass the audit can use that PR to use as an advantage over other firms
    b. Firms willing to take the temperature of their clients on what technology skills they want their outside counsel to have can use this a leverage within the firm to improve the skills that are important to the client
    c. Firms that have internal discussion can motivate the law firm leadership (both on the Attorney side and on the Administrative side) to evaluate basic skills needed on products that attorneys use on behalf of the client. It could start by asking simple questions like:
    i. Can an attorney print from Word to PDF?
    ii. Can an attorney resort information in an Excel spreadsheet?

    iii. Can an attorney update a basic form using the automation resources found in MS Word?
    iv. Are there customized resources we have within the firm that already improve the time it takes attorneys to do basic tasks (and are we telling our clients about these resources?)
    v. Is our work flow set up to take advantage of the professional staff we have to either push these tasks to the appropriate level, or leverage the skills of the staff to train the attorneys on simple tasks that can save enormous amounts of time?

All in all, what Flaherty is doing is an attempt to dictate the minimum skill level that his outside counsel has and decrease the costs to his company by requiring those improved skills, or punishing firms when they lack those skills (usually through a flat across the board fee discount.)

It should be interesting to see how much more traction Flaherty gets, and how soon it will be before a third-party snatches him up and he becomes a consultant for other companies to improve tech skills for their outside counsel.

Richard and Maya Hsu of The One Page Blog

“Today, with the help of my thirteen year old daughter…”

This is how my former colleague, Richard Hsu, now a partner at Shearman & Sterling starts his “HsuTube” videos on complex transactional legal concepts. We’ve covered Richard before when he and I both worked at the same law firm. We’ve since moved on to new firms, but keep in contact a lot via Twitter. He has a way of presenting information through video that is quite interesting, informative, and unique. Of course, as great as Richard is, his 13 year old daughter, Maya, is really the star of these videos.

Richard recently pointed me to some of the remastered videos that he and Maya recorded. He rented a studio for the videos that came with a lighted backdrop and a translucent board so that Maya could sit down and draw. Even so, he said that it took 8 hours to complete all the drawings and that Maya is probably retiring after this session. Let’s hope not because the finished videos are amazing.

I wondered what he does to get Maya to help him. After all, I’m still trying to get my 13 year old daughter to sing punk rock songs with me… (maybe I can have her draw for me instead!) Richard commented to me that:

The main reason I did these videos was not necessarily to do something that looks corporate or professional, but because it gave me a chance to do something creative with my daughter.

After looking at them, I knew I should share them with our readers for a couple of reasons. First, it is just good information and explains a complex topic in a way that even a law school grad like me can understand (it never really sunk in during law school.) Second, I’m a big fan of people that find creative ways of displaying information. Richard and Maya do that in spades. So, was it all Richard’s idea and concepts on how to display it? Turns out that Maya actually brings a lot to the [drawing] table according to Richard:

A lot of the drawing ideas were her suggestions and it was fun to bounce ideas off her and come up with the final pictures

So, go take a look at the videos below. It might make you want to become a transactional attorney… or, it may inspire you to find unique and creative ways to present your own expertise on a subject. Being able to visualize along with teaching is a great way to make teaching a difficult subject a little easier. Great job Maya… oh, and you did a good job, too, Richard!

IP Assets in an M&A Transaction: http://hsutube.com/ip-assets-m-a/

Assignment in a Change of Control: http://hsutube.com/assign-coc/ (inspired by Mike Kennedy)

Collaborative Development Financing: http://hsutube.com/collab-dev-fin/ (inspired by Mark Kessel)

IP Ownership in a Joint Development: http://hsutube.com/ip-ownership/

Reseller vs. License: http://hsutube.com/reseller-vs-license/

What is the Licensed Property? http://hsutube.com/licensed-prop/



Dan:  Recently a number of firms have announced reductions in their secretarial ranks as a means of improving their secretary ratios – which is to say 5:1 is the new 4:1. For those not familiar with this stat – it means that the new goal is 5 timekeepers for every 1 secretary. This approach makes a lot of sense. Technology is, in many ways, displacing the traditional role of the legal secretary. Firms should take advantage of these new technological advancements and reduce their headcount to pass along a cost savings to their clients via lower rates.

Jane: That seems perfectly logical and sensible, Dan…
Dan: Why… thank you, Jane?
Jane: Or, I’m sure it would to someone completely incapable of logical thought.
Dan: Here we go.
Jane: First, you callously assume that legal secretaries do nothing but sit around playing Farmville and buying crap on eBay all day. If that is true in your firm, then you don’t need a target secretary ratio, you need to fire people. 
Dan: I’m not saying legal secretaries are lazy, just that times have changed. Most firms are fully digital. Most attorneys draft their own documents, and send their own correspondence. But we still staff as if everything is done by secretaries.
Jane: So, you think the problem of under-utilized secretaries is exclusively caused by disruptive technologies?  
Dan: No, not exclusively, but in part…
Jane: How typically asinine. The vast majority of technological enhancements in law firms are upgrades to the OS and office suite. Neither of those bring significant productivity enhancements. In fact, some evidence shows that office suite upgrades actually reduce productivity.
Dan: I would expect a technological lightweight like you, Jane, to think that the OS and office suite are the most important technology upgrades at a law firm, but there is much more going on technologically behind the scenes.
Jane: And there appears to be nothing going on behind your scenes, Dan. No single, or even group of technologies, has replaced the services of a single legal secretary.  If secretaries are indeed performing less work, then that work is either no longer being done or someone else is doing it. I know of very few things that firms have stopped doing, so that suggests someone else is doing the secretarial work. 
Dan: Look, you ignoramus, I have never said that a single technology can replace a legal secretary, just that the totality of technological productivity enhancements over the last few years have reduced the need for a firm to have so many legal secretaries.

Jane: You mean, because attorneys are typing their own documents, and sending their own correspondence, and managing their own schedules?

Dan: Yes, exactly.  I believe I said that earlier.

Jane: And because many do their own document editing and formatting, basic data entry, and presentation creation?

Dan: Yes.

Jane: And they answer their own phones and get their own coffee?

Dan: Yes! 

Jane: And they do all of these things better than their secretaries used to?

Dan: Well…

Jane: In less time?

Dan: No, but…

Jane: So, assuming it takes an attorney 3 hours to do a task that a secretary can do in an hour, and you have an attorney to secretary ratio of 5 to 1, rather than 4 to 1, how much more money can the firm bill in a year?

Dan: … 4 to 5, plus…??

Jane: Don’t worry about it, genius.  It’s a trick question.