3 Things You Can Do to Build Your Skills in 2016

As I reflected on some of the big learning stories from 2015, I realized that what I need (and my peers need) is to make 2016 a year of professional development. Change was everywhere in 2015 – at work and at home – which ultimately means learning new things. Advances in neuroscience are giving us insight into how our brains process new information. Some long standing ideas are giving way to new and different approaches in learning.

In law firms, we often perform multiple job duties outside of our job titles and it can be a challenge to find time to invest in ourselves. But I encourage you to find a few minutes each day to discover what is happening in law firms, learning and life.

1. Subscribe to and peruse these four legal-focused newsletters from Pinhawk. They are free and curated by people who are actively involved in the legal profession. Each newsletter contains links to relevant articles, blogs and press releases. It isn’t necessary to read every link in every newsletter, but try to pick at least one item each day. It will be a great way to keep up with current legal news.

  • Legal Administrator Daily is all about the business of law. Bill Lipner of Discovery Partners, Inc. curates the newsletter.
  • Law Technology Daily Digest is an overview of technology news serving the legal market. The newsletter is curated by Jeffrey Brandt, CIO of a large law firm.
  • If you are interested in legal education and training, the Education and Training Daily is curated by Amy Bowser-Rollins, an instructor at Litigation Support Guru and Adjunct Instructor at Georgetown University SCS Paralegal Program. She focuses on law school classrooms, information relevant to law students, recent graduates and other practicing professionals.
  • Librarian News Digest is curated by two editors. Constance Ard is a Senior Consultant with HBR Consulting and John J. DiGilio, MLIS, JD, National Manager of Research Services, Reed Smith LLP.

2. Follow thought leaders on social media. Social media isn’t just about selfies and pictures of lunch. It can be a great resource for professional development. You can find thought leaders who “work out loud” by sharing their thoughts regularly through social media.

If you aren’t sure who to follow on Twitter, feel free to check out my profile and look at the list of people that I follow. You can also search for #legalit to focus on people who share legal specific tweets. When you find something you think might be interesting to follow, look at some of their tweets and make sure they are talking about things that interest you.

If you already spend time on Facebook, you can find legal and learning professionals on Facebook. Organizations like the Association of Talent Development and the eLearning Guild have Facebook pages. Your favorite vendor, like TutorPro, probably has a Facebook page.

3. Explore at least one new training method this year with a pilot group. It can be challenge to think about implementing a new method of training so don’t try to implement a new method firm-wide. Start small by picking a single topic and work with a group who will give you honest feedback. Keep your group engaged by picking a topic that is relevant to their work.

A few things you can try that we’ve blogged about:

  • Microlearning is a method of learning, where very specific concepts and ideas are presented in very small chunks, over very short time-frame.
  • Formative Assessment happens in the flow of learning and focuses on behavior change in the context of work.
  • Blended Learning programs incorporate instructor-led training with e-Learning, assessment and practice.

Resolve to make 2016 a year that you include yourself in your learning plans for your organization. If we can help, let us know!

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