Following through with training and professional development shouldn’t be a one-way street, but rather, a partnership. The Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC) acknowledges the importance of professional staff training in their 2023 Chief Legal Officers Survey Report: “Legal department staff need to be aware of business operations and business stakeholders also need to be attuned to basic legal processes and requirements,” the report says. “Education and training on both sides can help better align legal services to business strategy and therefore improve client satisfaction.”
In a nutshell: It’s time for everyone to start training up.
The next time your law firm or legal department starts to evaluate new policies, technologies and overall business practices, consider a more 360-degree approach to professional development. Law training for staff who don’t practice law is one way to achieve that. Here’s one place to start: Law degrees for legal administrative professionals.
In the past decade, a new type of master’s degree has emerged in the legal space for administrative professionals who want to level up their performance and learn new skills. More than 100 higher education institutions that offer these programs are catering to professionals who could benefit from legal education, but don’t have the need or desire to be a practicing attorney. Students enrolled in these law school programs learn about contracts, compliance, regulation, intellectual property and other areas that can help to bridge the gap between the legal team and the firm's other functions.
WHO BENEFITS FROM LEGAL TRAINING?
A degree in law can benefit employees across any organization — and it can positively impact your overall legal operation. When employees in your organization have a better understanding of the law, the legal industry, and the implications of law and regulation on your business or client relations, the entire enterprise is better equipped to benefit from cross-team collaboration, efficiencies and compliance.
From human resources to IT and operations, here are four areas where employees with legal training can positively impact your team and why it’s imperative that you have them on board.
1. IT and Operations
A recent article from International Technology Legal Association (ITLA) talks about the importance of integrating IT staff into the legal functions of a law firm to help with project implementation and outcomes. While “embedding tech folks into legal ops,” as the article describes, is a practical method to help lawyers and support staff get on the same page, how much easier would it be if your legal and operations teams went into these collaborations already speaking the same language?
2. Contract Review
Students who go through legal master’s programs come out with the ability to understand the law and manage key elements of legal-based projects, such as contract drafting, review and implementation. Having legal administrators on board who can manage and help implement contracts is a great time-saving tool for attorneys who need to stay focused on client work — and one doesn’t have to be a lawyer to be effective at this.
3. Vendor Management
When legal administrators are able to understand contract terms, it allows for smoother interaction with company vendors and a better understanding of negotiated services. Staff who understand contracts can help to ensure deliverables are met, negotiate favorable terms and provide more comprehensive oversight of business partnerships.
4. Business Regulation
Regulation impacts all areas of a business, not just the legal department. Your business may have to comply with laws and regulations around data and privacy, consumer disclosures or e-discovery. These regulations may differ based on the location of your offices or the industry your organization represents. Having team members in place who can understand regulation can be instrumental in maintaining organization-wide compliance.
ENCOURAGE EMPLOYEES TO RAISE THE BAR
The onus often falls on attorneys to learn the latest in business, regulation and tech, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Administrative employees can now study law in a way that best suits their interests. By supporting your employees who want to take on some form of legal education, you are guaranteed to improve your organizational outcomes.