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Targeting 50 clients by year end: DLA Piper develops e-learning tool in quality drive and to sell

Not wanting to be outdone by their US colleagues, who recently launched DLA Piper’s first non-legal entity selling cybersecurity software subscriptions for $25,000 a year, the firm’s London office is preparing to rollout an e-learning product for both associates and clients.

With corporates looking to build in-house legal functions, or just keep more work in-house, DLA Piper is in the late stages of developing an e-learning tool to reduce the drain on partners having to fly around the world to deliver training in between client work.

Devised by Kit Burden, global co-head of the firm’s technology group, the product will also be used to assess the firm’s army of associates as it looks to improve the quality of its client delivery.

The firm is set to select a build partner this week, with three bidders still in the frame for the contract, and Burden expects the product to go live by the end of September.

The product will cover all practice areas and is configured to allow automatic marking, through use of key words and phrases. Burden says he didn’t want the software to be ‘some survey monkey multiple choice stuff’ as it would give lawyers ‘too much of an opportunity to guess at the right answer even if they didn’t understand the training’. There will also be a live drafting module.

He adds: ‘The moment you have to do it manually, with each one being dealt with on its own merits, you cease to have any advantages in terms of time and it’s no longer a product, but a very expensive operation for a law firm.’

While the e-learning will compliment and not replace all training workshops the firm runs for clients, Burden says that the marking element will help corporates to improve their in-house teams and spot areas they may be failing in. The tests can be timed to replicate exam conditions.

A cost plan for clients is due to be made up soon, but Burden says ‘it will be significantly less than a lawyer’s time going through individual papers from a clients’ team’. He adds: ‘We’re developing this on a one-to-many basis, which means we can defray that cost over a whole load of separate clients.’

Within DLA Piper, the e-learning will first be rolled out among Burden’s technology group, before uptake from other sector and practice teams. ‘We are trying to impose a common level of sophistication across all of our staff globally. Most law firms do a lot of law firm training but it’s all pretty basic and very time consuming. We’ve got to make sure we’re giving our smaller offices all the tools, knowledge, and knowhow the global group has.’

Unlike in the US, where Burden’s colleagues set up Blue Edge Lab to launch its cybersecurity guidebook, the e-learning product will be sold within the law firm.

‘If we haven’t got at least 50 clients utilising it globally within a year; I will be very disappointed,’ says Burden.