Lawyers Teaching Non-lawyers

Most federal ethics training is conducted by lawyers. Most of the people being trained are non-lawyers. Problem? Tom Fox thinks so:

One often hears or reads about complaints that compliance training is dull, nay even boring. I mean, how many times can you expect someone to be lectured to on the riveting subject of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act FCPA or even the UK Bribery Act? Coupled with the legally spellbinding subject, the sessions are often led by lawyers who are training non-lawyers.

While some lawyers are up to the task of making their training engaging, in my experience this is a challenge for many lawyer ethics trainers. A possible solution discussed here previously is greater sharing of ethics training materials. Rather than designing their own training materials as a sort of cottage industry, trainers, including lawyers, should adopt high quality training materials.

Better awareness is another approach. If you are a lawyer, don’t assume that if you understand an explanation, your audience will understand it. Solicit feedback from on your materials and your delivery before you go into “production mode” with your training, and afterward. Most important, learn the difference between talking down to your audience (to be avoided at all costs), and explaining complex things in a way every audience member will understand.

Training Tips Columns Archive

IEC Journal has an archive of the 24 ethics Training Tips Jerry Lawson drafted for them on roughly a monthly basis in 2011-13. These columns cover a wide variety of training techniques, from selecting fonts for use in slide shows to handling questions from hostile audience members. We will be returning and expanding on this material in future posts to this blog. Presentation Skills Resources, a project of respected law librarian Sabrina Pacifici, has long been recognized as one of the top legal research sites. Among the many treasures found there: the collection of Presentation Skills resources.

One that caught my eye would benefit many ethics trainers: Storytelling: Wake Up Sleeping Beauty. Stories are one of the most powerful training techniques.

There’s plenty more for trainers at this wonderful site.

DoD Ethics Counselor’s Deskbook

The Department of Defense SOCO Ethics Counselor’s Deskbook describes itself as “A hornbook and “how to” for Standards of Conduct in the Department of Defense.”  This description is a little misleading, since most of this valuable reference is just as valuable for ethics counselors in civilian agencies.

There’s a wealth of useful information here. One component is particularly timely: The recent strong Congressional interest in conferences means makes it advisable to be familiar with the manual and slide show on ethical issues involving conferences.

It looks like DoD SOCO obtained most or all of the manuals from the Judge Advocate General’s Legal Center and School, the Army’s excellent school for lawyers, but this just shows SOCO’s good judgment: If you are going to borrow, borrow from the best.

OGE Tips for Effective Online Training

Are you considering moving some training online? An OGE slide show entitled Essential Skills for Training Online (must register for access) may smooth adaptation to the new medium. Here is a sample tip:
  •  Limit class size to 50-75% of the class size you would teach in a classroom
  • Maximum effective class size is near 20
  • Common error: Creating huge classes because the Web conferencing platform allows it