I just came upon this article (hat tip to Jordan Furlong via Twitter: jordan_law21) on Law.com about economic cutbacks including "extra" professional development. CPAs are doing the same thing.
There are so many things wrong with this I couldn't possibly name them all, but lets start with these two:
- Professionals, you ARE your brains.
Your knowledge is your only source of high-value offerings. OJT is nice, but cannot be solely relied upon for increasing your knowledge.
- CPE requirements are low, and CLE requirements are ridiculously low, already.
Per the ABA, minimum CLE by state requirements average 10-15 hours annually. Are you kidding me?? For a knowledge profession like LAW? I really hope this is wrong. If a firm thinks that 1-2 days per year is adequate and that they should "cut" anything they support in addition to that, then I'm scared for the future of law. The AICPA has this state-by-state CPE chart that reflects most states require 40 hours of annual continuing education. Physicians' CME requirements by state, at about 20 hours/year, are greater than law, but lower than accounting.
For knowledge professions, these minimum requirements are far from adequate for average performers, and they sure won't result in very many superstars.
As a buyer of services with the sort of stakes we are talking about... my LIFE, my financial security, and my legal protection, I certainly don't want a lawyer with 2 days per year of learning and a doctor with just 3 days. I'm scared and you should be, too.
Some might argue, well, there is great value in on-the-job training. Ok. OJT guided by senior practitioners meeting minimum continuing education requirements does not excite me. Further, I've worked inside of great firms, large and small. Are you telling me the knowledge transfer from senior to junior is anywhere near where it could or should be? I didn't think so.
Do you realize the Container Store invests 241 hours in employees' first year training and 160/yr after that? Seriously. I wrote about it before at Your CPE is Your R&D, Don't Underinvest. Closet design and storage solution service delivery merit more education than a DOCTOR? The Container Store gets it. Look at the leadership training and resources here. And the positive impact on morale. And the happy customer trail. This is not mere coincidence.
At any rate, these comparisons are only as useful as navel-gazing can ever be. Firms need to be breaking OUT of the pack. Not cutting back on their most important "asset" - their ability to grow their knowledge and create more value for customers than others can or will add. Knowledge is the only way.
"Knowledge has to be improved, challenged, and increased constantly, or it vanishes."
Law and accounting are already under-trained on leadership, management, and service, if not technical matters. Invest in your human capital.
Please, firms, don't cut eduction. It's the worst decision you could ever make.