Developing an E-Learning Course for a Global Legal Firm

Developing an E-Learning Course for a Global Legal Firm

Gemma Baltazar (Baker & McKenzie Global Services LLC, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-1885-5.ch007
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This case study describes the considerations, challenges, and lessons learned in developing this online course, which is the foundation of an overall risk management training program for the Firm. Risk management is a very broad, deep, and complex topic which impacts the practice of law in many different ways. Recognizing that it is in meaningful discussions where learning most likely takes place, the project team’s challenge was to design an e-learning course that allows sufficient interactivity to engage the learner and stimulate thinking around issues they encounter in whatever legal area, and at whatever level they practice.
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Organization Or Situation Background

From its inception in 1949 Baker & McKenzie has always aimed to be global in reach. There are 3,900 locally admitted attorneys in 67 offices worldwide, operating as collaborative equals guided by shared values and common standards. The Firm’s strength and culture is based on deep local roots and the experienced global perspective that comes from helping companies navigate sophisticated legal and business issues at home and across borders, cultures and practices around the world. The Firm’s structure is characterized by:

  • Geography: The Firm operates in 39 countries across the four regions of Asia Pacific, Europe and Middle East, North America, and Latin America;

  • Practice Group: The Firm has 11 core practice groups (i.e. groups of lawyers practicing in the same specialist legal expertise areas): Antitrust & Competition, Banking & Finance, Dispute Resolution, Employment, Intellectual Property, Mergers & Acquisitions, Private Equity, Real Estate, Securities, Tax, Trade & Commerce

  • Industry Group: The Firm focuses on 4 industry sectors: Energy, Mining & Infrastructure; Information Technology/Commercial; Pharmaceuticals & Healthcare.

Attorneys bring the knowledge, experiences and capabilities of a global law firm to domestic matters. The Firm’s core brand idea is “Fluency in the way we think, work and behave”, which means:

  • Having an instinctively global perspective and a deep understanding of the language and culture of business all over the world.

  • Having the ability to simplify legal complexity across practices and borders, bringing the right team and expertise regardless of location.

  • Having a genuinely multicultural approach and is passionate about open and highly collaborative relationships.

The Firm is best known for its global footprint, and assisting clients transact business across borders. While such matters are an excellent foundation for the Firm’s continued growth, they inherently carry the greatest degree of risk. Therefore, in an organization that expects its attorneys to think globally, effective risk management has always been at the forefront of Firm management priorities.

It is axiomatic that key to any successful law firm is having a combination of both experienced and young attorneys who are of the highest quality in terms of intelligence, skills and judgment. However, quality alone does not eliminate risk. (Zulkey 2009)


Setting The Stage

Baker & McKenzie attorneys have a major part to play in managing and mitigating risk. broadly defined as an uncertainty; an unwanted event that may or may not happen. They must be aware of sources of reference and help, and of resources available to advise and assist on risk management related issues. Risk management is rarely covered in depth in law school curricula. Attorneys in the Firm need to better understand where their professional duties lie, sources of regulation of their activities and the potential exposure if they do not follow both ethical rules and internal Firm procedures. Moreover, even when following all rules and regulations, there are risk issues of which lawyers need be aware.

The Baker & McKenzie Development Framework (DF) is a competency model that defines what is required to be successful in Baker & McKenzie. A key performance area in the DF is “Matter Management”, of which “Managing Risk” is an activity category. The DF makes it clear that all attorneys in the Firm are expected to adhere to the rules of the appropriate regulatory bodies, to follow the Firm's risk management procedures and to deliver a high quality of service that minimizes risk.

For Baker & McKenzie, it is vital that the Firm's risk management framework is clear to all attorneys, making them aware of potential sources of risk and liability, the ethical standards expected of them, and the importance of providing high quality client representation that complies with the Firm’s ethical obligations wherever its lawyers practice in the world.

Risk management training had previously been delivered by the Firm in a variety of ways:

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