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Sunday, September 03, 2006

How to slowly diminish your knowledge base

I read an article today in Legal Week that really did take my breath away and if you click on the title bar it will take you to the article in question.

It relates to the Law society's proposals to reduce the training contract that all trainee solicitors have to undertake before they qualify as solicitors.

At present trainee solicitors spend 2 years in firms before, if successful, qualifying as solicitors.

What tends to happen during that time is that they spend the time either 3 or 6 months in various parts of the firm carrying out work in say Corporate or Property Departments gaining some of the tacit knowledge needed to help them once they hopefully qualify.

Well the law society proposes to cut the training contract by 6 months. A number of the major law firms have complained about the proposal.

I have to say that as a knowledge manager, a reduction of 6 months in the contract means that the time that people can spend in a seat is reduced with a reduction in the elements of the experiential tacit knowledge. This is something that young lawyers so desperately need - especially as this reduction would also increase the risk element of a junior solicitor making an error.

I fear that this may be, to use a colloquialism, a "dumbing down" of the profession that will lead to younger lawyers being exposed to more risk and that we are therefore in danger of increasing the level of 'cut and paste' solicitors with a diminution of real life experience to serve as an essential base.

Let me leave the final word to a partner who sums it up thus.

Marco Compagnoni, a partner with Weil Gotshal & Manges in London, said: "This job is all about experience and soaking up knowledge, and anything that cuts that down is bad."

Hear Hear.

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