From early on, host Ralph Baxter knew co-founders Ian Nelson and Chris Wedgeworth were onto something when they developed a legal training model with proven educational techniques pioneered by Coursera, Khan Academy, and Duolingo.
In this episode, Baxter talks to Nelson about the development of Hotshot and its practical uses by law schools and law firms. Since its early pilots more than eight years ago, Hotshot has developed a library of 200 topics in corporate practice and business acumen.
Hotshot hires experienced lawyers to develop the substantive content for training and hires professional actors for the video presentations, which are generally delivered in short, easily digestible segments.
Guest Sara Dana shares the perspective of Harvard Law, which gave early feedback about the product and has used Hotshot to provide students added learning resources since 2017.
Morrison Foerster partner Rick Jenney shows how his firm has used Hotshot to train new lawyers and boost training resources for junior attorneys. Especially valuable is the ability to use the on-demand library to flip the classroom. Before a firm-led training, lawyers get video homework so everyone is on the same page. Jenney says this approach has improved in-firm training.
Similarly, Dana notes that the students using Hotshot are familiar with video tutorials and have embraced the product because, like so much of what makes on-demand culture popular, “It’s really well done; it’s exactly what they need; they can access it when they need it.”
Ian Nelson is co-founder of Hotshot.
Sara Dana is the communication director for career services at Harvard Law School.
Rick Jenney is a partner at Morrison and Foerster.
Special thanks to our sponsors, Logikcull and Acumass.
Law Technology Now
Hotshot 21st Century Training for New Lawyers and Law Students
Ralph Baxter: Welcome to Law Technology Now. This is Ralph Baxter and this is my 10th episode as co-host of the show. Today, we’re going to look at a new way law schools and law firms are providing much needed practical training for new lawyers using engaging on-demand videos from a company called Hotshot. Our guests today include Ian Nelson one of the co-founders of Hotshot, and Sara Dana from the Harvard Law School, and Rick Jenney from the Law Firm Morrison & Foerster. Both Harvard and Morrison & Foerster use Hotshot.
We’re recording this episode remotely of course because we’re in a pandemic. Ian is in Miami, Sara is in Sutton, New Hampshire, Rick is in Washington, D.C. and I’m in my study in Wheeling, West Virginia. Before we get started, I want to thank our sponsors. Thank you to Acu Masque, Paddington Trademark, “Renewal payments made easy.” Find out how at acumasque.com can take the stress out of annuities and save you money on European patent validations today. And thanks to Logikcull, instant discovery software for modern legal teams. Logikcull offers perfectly predictable pricing at $250.00 per matter, per month. Create your free account anytime at logikal.com/ltn. That’s logik with a “k” — c-u-l-l.com/ltn.
One of the objectives of our podcast is to explore how we can make law work better for everyone. Today we’re going to examine one specific example that shows how law firms and law schools can prepare new lawyers better, so they can serve clients better, so they can have more rewarding careers, and strengthen their firms. Nearly everyone complains at one time or another about the inadequacy of training for new lawyers. Law school, as great as law school is, and I’m one of those people who enjoyed law school, teaches you a lot about the law and how to prepare for a lifetime of learning, but it doesn’t always teach you enough about how to practice law, how to be a lawyer. Of course, if you join a law firm, you get training and you get great training, but it is uneven. You depend on learning assignment by assignment, engagement by engagement, and of course the quality of your training depends on the nature of your assignments and how good the people you work with are at mentoring and helping you learn.
There are formal training programs in law firms, but they too are uneven. They depend on busy lawyers who have lots of other things to do and have their own priorities, and it doesn’t always produce the best outcome. And meanwhile, clients are ever more insistent that the new lawyers, if they’re going to pay for them, if they’re going to be assigned to their matters know what they’re doing, not just about the rule in Shelley’s case but they know what they’re doing when it comes to practicing law.
About five years ago, two enterprising entrepreneurs created a modern solution to address this challenge. What they created is essentially a Khan Academy for new lawyers. It consists of short videos, accessible on demand, focused on the practical skills that are necessary to be an effective lawyer that you don’t necessarily learn in law school. And videos that can be integrated into the other training programs that law schools and law firms offer. As I said today we have three guests. Ian Nelson who is one of the founders of Hotshot, who is a lawyer by training. Sara Dana who is the Senior Associate Director of Career Services and Director of Communications at the Harvard Law School. And Rick Jenney, a partner at Morrison & Foerster with responsibility among other things for overseeing the training of corporate and finance associates.
So, welcome to Law Technology Now, Ian, Sara and Rick. I’d like to begin by talking with Ian about the fundamentals of how Hotshot works. I first met Ian and Chris Wedgeworth, his co-founder about seven years ago when they were at Practical Law Company, which was owned by Thomson Reuters. And I was a senior advisor to Thompson Reuters, helping to create the legal executive institute there. After Ian and Chris left Practical Law, they started planning to create Hotshot. I had the privilege of talking with them back at the time they were thinking about it, I thought they had a great idea. I thought it was an audacious challenge they were taking on, but I had enough confidence in them that I invested in Hotshot back at the beginning.
So, Ian welcome to Law Technology Now and I’d like to start by asking you about the lessons from your experience at Practical Law that helped you think about Hotshot.
Ian Nelson: Ralph, thanks for having me on the podcast, and thanks to Sara and Rick for joining as well. This is exciting. So, it’s an interesting question, the experiences at Practical Law, probably many of the listeners are familiar with Practical Law. Practical Law actually launched in the U.S. at a very interesting time back in 2008 2009 when the economy was going south, and the legal industry was about to have major upheaval. People really did not like the idea of Practical Law in the beginning. This idea of an efficiency tool and working smarter and faster. So, it was an interesting concept at the time and also this idea that there are some things in legal that can be generic that not every single facet of what a law firm or law school does is unique to that organization. So, Practical Law came around and said, “Hey. That there is a generic level of information or a standard form everyone should have,” and then you should free up your internal resources for what is unique and specific about your organization.
So, that concept really hit home for us. Essentially, what we’re doing at Hotshot is applying that mind frame to legal training and education.
Ralph Baxter: Right. When I first encountered Practical Law that didn’t seem possible to me for a company to have the command of that many legal verticals, the law is complicated. There’s so much practical issues and law issues to consider, but Practical Law has mastered it. And of course, you’ve drawn on those as you just said on that experience with Hotshot. So, what motivated you and what were your objectives when you created Hotshot?
Ian Nelson: A lot of it was from my own personal experience. I went to law school, I did well in school, got to the law firm. And my very first week as a junior associate, I was asked to go look for anything weird in the diligence files and that I’d be on a reverse triangular merger. It all sounded weird. I had no idea what anybody was talking about, and I just thought something doesn’t seem right about this. But at the time going through that, that really was just a problem for me, right? I could panic on my own, but it really wasn’t a problem for the firm or for clients. That always stuck with me, and my experiences with Practical Law helped me get that sort of education and background in developing a service. But as we were leaving Practical Law and thinking about what to do, the legal economy really was changing again, and clients started saying, “Hey. We’re not so sure about this subsidizing legal training anymore,” and trading and efficiency is incredibly important.
So, those market dynamics were changing and Chris and I started really examining how people are learning outside the legal industry, and started looking at Coursera, Duolingo, Khan Academy, YouTube videos, and thought here’s a real opportunity to bring modern trends and learning to the legal industry, which I love our industry, but it’s not always at the cutting edge of what’s happening in the world. So, all those things came together to help us start Hotshot.
Ralph Baxter: Okay. So, let’s talk about how it works. I’ve already said and you’ve alluded to it already that the program is based on videos, but if you could just walk us through how it works. I want us to talk about the curriculum, what are the areas of practice that you cover, and how you do it?
Ian Nelson: Sure. So, everything we do is based on customer feedback from users, from law firms, from law schools and we at Hotshot focus on the substantive legal and business acumen skills, so M&A, civil litigation, accounting and financial for lawyers. So, what we do is we work with subject matter experts. We develop everything from scratch and it’s all meant to be short engaging very practical videos, they’re not long talking head videos. For example, they’re not hour-long CLE presentations.
It’s really designed to support that associate or student who needs to learn something just in time. They’re assigned a matter, and he or she wants to learn something immediately and/or we are supporting law firms and law schools, and I’m sure Sara and Rick will touch on this, to help integrate our stuff into more formal training programs and we’ll touch on concepts like blended learning. In addition to the videos, we offer interactive quizzes and training exercises, and hypos, and all sorts of things to support learning. That’s essentially what it’s all about.
Ralph Baxter: So, one of the things you’ve mentioned was — one of the most important things to me when I was learning about Practical Law, the subject matter experts. Any user of Practical Law or Hotshot is going to wonder, how do you guys know enough to create, in your case, the videos about the subject matter. And that’s the answer, right? You rely deeply on people who are expert in these subjects to help you establish the content.
Ian Nelson: That’s right. We hire people with significant practice experience, and we have three and four layers of review on everything that we write. We really designed everything to be the really practical things that associates need to know. It’s interesting when you work in video, the writing the scripts is half of it, the other half is of course the animation and the production values and bringing it to life. So, it was that side too which Chris and I had a learned on the flyers as we did it. So, it’s interesting.
Ralph Baxter: Right. So, describe how a video — what a video looks like. What happens in a video? As you’ve already said, it’s not a talking head, looking into the camera and lecturing. What is it?
Ian Nelson: So, our videos average about 10 minutes in length, broken up into short bite-sized sections of a few minutes each. And really our goal is to create great one-on-one mentoring sessions, if you will. So, if we’re explaining a document, the video will actually — it’ll be flipping pages through a document, circling, highlighting, underlining words, writing notes in the margin, really talking someone through it. If we’re explaining, say going back to reverse triangular mergers, we’ll show that diagram moving around and how the deal works. There are some presenters because it’s good to see people as well. It’s really whatever suits the content best is what we can use, because you really get freed up when you can when you can use video in that way.
Ralph Baxter: For anyone who has looked at Khan Academy videos, you can see the analogy the Khan Academy video is from the perspective of the student and you get to walks the student through how it does the task that the student is learning how to do. So, how do you produce these videos? Who do you use on them and how do you do it?
Ian Nelson: Well, it’s funny. When Chris and I had the idea, everything like I said earlier is based on customer feedback. We went around the country for a year and interviewed firms and schools, and students, and everyone seemed to like this idea of short-engaging videos. At the end of it, Chris and I looked at each other and said now, “How the heck do we make videos?” now that everyone likes the idea.
Really what we do, is we engage the subject matter experts. It’s a very formal process we’ve developed over the years in terms of drafts and drafts of overviews and drafts and drafts of scripts. And then we make sure we go through everything and make sure it’s plain English and conversational. That’s the writing side of it. In terms of who’s on the videos, you asked that as well. It’s interesting too, the presenters on our videos, except for a few exceptions here and there are actors. We’re actually a Sagged company and we’ll have 65 actors show up to read for the role of M&A lawyer.
We actually did a pilot in the very early days. We shot a lawyer who is super engaging and great, and we shot an actor. Overwhelmingly, people preferred the actors. We decided hire expert lawyers to write the script, hire expert presenters to present the script. That’s worked really well and we take a lot of care in who we cast for these videos. We’re starting to get into interviewing actual subject matter experts to supplement some of the videos, but for the most part these professional presenters you see on screen, and it’s gone down quite well actually.
Ralph Baxter: I often find myself saying to people in legal technology or in law, when we turned to some task that’s about building our, business we need to be as good at that as we are at the thing we do for a living, be a lawyer, be a technologist. In your case, what you just described is finding your way to be as good at creating a video as your law firm customers are and your law school customers are and doing what they do, and it turned out it wasn’t. The lawyer wasn’t the best person to do the presenting.
Ian Nelson: One one thing. I’ll just say it’s sort of a funny story. When we were starting and did our pilot, half of the law firm said, “You absolutely must put a lawyer on screen or no one will believe, or buy into it.” The other half said, “Please, please do not put a lawyer on the screen.” So, we had strong feedback both ways and the actors went out at the end of the day.
Ralph Baxter: Right. I mean, you and I had that conversation, and I was skeptical about whether a lawyer or whether an actor could pull this off. And obviously people they can, and it’s worked very, very well. One last thing I want to ask you about, before we turn to Sara and Rick, is the partnership that you’ve entered with the American Bar Association, Business Law Section, and Mergers and Acquisitions Committee. Can you tell us about that?
Ian Nelson: That’s an exciting new developments that we’re particularly proud of. We teamed up with the M&A Committee, which is a section of the business law section. They reached out and said, “Hey. We have all the subject matter experts of course, whether they’re preeminent and a in the country in the world, and we’re looking for a way to get, a, not just our people out there but, b, how do we help educate and train the next generation of lawyers and future members of the committee, how do we do that? I think they recognize there’s a new way that people are learning and asked if we’d be interested in a collaboration. What that is much more advanced content. So, it’s not aimed at the student or the junior associate this is content aimed at more experienced M&A practitioners where we get into negotiating points, market trends. It’s really is a collaboration, because we have some typical Hotshot style, animated videos with interviews with committee members talking about their perspectives on these events that M&A provisions. It’s pretty new relationship. I’m really excited about it.
That’s just sounds great. Now, let’s turned some customers, and users of Hotshot, Sara and Rick to see their perspective. Let me start with you, Sara. When did you start first using Hotshot?
Sara Dana: Yeah. So, I had to go back and double check my notes, but it’s been quite a long time. We first connected with Ian in 2015, when he was starting to pilot Hotshot and wanted us to take a look at some of the videos. We provided some of that feedback that he discussed. Right away, we just loved it. I was really skeptical when I heard the concept. I don’t know, I just think students are really savvy consumers particularly a video content and I was worried it would be corny or cheesy. But as soon as we saw it, we said, “Oh this is fantastic.”
And so, while there wasn’t necessarily some huge hole we were looking to fill we just really saw an opportunity to give our students an additional resource that we thought would be really beneficial to them. So, we worked with Ian quite a bit and then became official customers in 2017.
Ralph Baxter: Rick, I want to ask you the same basic question, how, when did you start using Hotshot and why?
Rick Jenney: Yeah. Well, first of all thanks for inviting me on the podcast to talk about hotshot and other things. We got involved in about 2017, a little bit later than Sara and Harvard people. Basically, we got involved because we saw the demand for on-demand training from the young associates at the firm. I mean millennials that’s the way they learn. You know my view of it is, you need to give trainees what they want, not what do you think they ought to have. This is Marketing 101, give people what they want. Don’t try to make them want what you’ve got. And so, Hotshot was perfect for that. I might add it was quite a bit better than the alternative that we had, which was videotapes of programs that we had done in conference rooms, sort of the classic lunchtime format.
With all due respect to the presenters, and I’m one of them, it’s not even close. It’s so much better to see good content presented the way they presented, but I’m sure we’ll get into that later. That’s how we got involved.
Ralph Baxter: Let’s just stay with that for a second, because I said — in the opening, I said that in-house training at law firms, great as the law firms are, great as the lawyers, the partners are is uneven at best, was I off-base when I said that.
Rick Jenney: I think “uneven” is charitable. It’s not a question of whether the people know what they’re doing. I mean obviously some of top law firms, top lawyers, it’s just a question of, “Are the people capable of presenting what they know in a way that’s engaging?” Generally, the answer is no. We’re not actors. We’re not professional communicators. We’re lawyers and we should stay in our lane. The way Ian described it, if you get the best lawyers for the content and to write the script, it’s absolutely not a good idea to have videos of lawyers talking, which is what we come up with, even in the Zoom environment. The best we can do is videos of lawyers clicking through a PowerPoint, but that’s nowhere near what Hotshot can do.
Ralph Baxter: Right. And this really goes to a fundamental idea of doing what you’re good at. So, the partners at Morrison are as good as it gets, the professors at Harvard are as good as it gets at teaching law. Now, we got a specific objective in front of us, how do we train these new lawyers who know what they know in terms of the law, and how do we get them up to speed on the things they wouldn’t have learned in law school that aren’t really about the fundamentals of law, but about the application of law to the clients. How do we get them up to speed? What’s the best way to do it? What’s the best pedagogy? What’s the best format? And then you said something that’s really vital to this example, but the whole idea of how we modernize law firms. How do we do it in a way that will resonate with them, the newest lawyers have a different outlook than the most senior lawyers in the firm about how they learn? That’s a big part of this, I think.
Rick Jenney: Yeah, absolutely.
Ralph Baxter: Okay. Let’s take a commercial break here for a moment and then we’ll continue talking about how Harvard and Morrison use Hotshot.
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Ralph Baxter: So, we’re back. We’re talking today about Hotshot, a creative new way to train new lawyers and how it helps law schools and law firms deliver practical education to their new lawyers.
Let’s turn now to how Hotshot actually works at Morrison and at Harvard. Rick, can you talk about how you deploy Hotshot in your firm.
Rick Jenney: Yeah. Once I saw Hotshot, I knew people would like it and love it, if they could see it the way I saw it. So, we tried a bunch of different approaches, and I think collectively they worked, but no one was sufficient. The first thing we did was we incorporated into the program that we have for our attorneys, corporate finance attorneys when they arrive, the first week at the firm, we have a sort of half-day session and we plugged into that. It was half-day session by Zoom, even though this was before the pandemic. We plugged into that half-day, a 45-minute Zoom connection to Hotshot. That way people could see Hotshot and see where it was and we could talk about how to log in and all that. And then they saw, we actually played the intro accounting a couple of programs totaled about — 45 minutes total, but they were all small 10-minute segments.
Then we went back. That was the first years. Now, we had to think about what about all the other associates. So, we sent an email to all the associates attaching the Hotshot catalog, which at last count was 155 programs and we even highlighted for each practice group, you know these are the programs you might be interested in. Then we said, “Okay, let’s give people a challenge.” So, we decided that for junior attorneys there could be — they could get a business acumen, business acumen certification if they completed six or seven Hotshot courses that we chose, varying depending on the practice group. And so, that worked. And then the pandemic helped too in a way, because everyone is working remotely now. And so, there is no such thing as getting together in a conference room and having a luncheon, that old outdated model. That’s how we did it.
Ralph Baxter: I think you’ve told me in our earlier conversations that you use Hotshot with your new associate orientation program?
Rick Jenney: Exactly. The idea is to plug — when you have a captive audience, at some kind of new associate orientation program, plug them in, show them a Hotshot video. That usually is all it takes. And so, our biggest objective was to expose people to Hotshot, not to convince them. I think Hotshot is pretty good at convincing people all by itself.
Ralph Baxter: And so, they have the whole catalog is available to them and then they can access it as they need to.
Rick Jenney: Exactly.
Ralph Baxter: Do you also do some — and maybe if this is part of what you’ve already said, do some training where you have essentially a flipped classroom?
Rick Jenney: Yeah. I didn’t mention that, but that is what we do. Hotshot is additive for us, not an alternative necessarily. There are some programs that they do that we can’t do, like accounting training, some other things. And there are some programs that Hotshot is great for because it’s so basic that senior lawyers don’t want to keep telling all the first years and second years all the time what it is. But the flip the classroom model that you’re referring to, of course, is the idea that as homework before a presentation at the firm, or by someone from the firm watch this Hotshot appetizer. It works great, because then you don’t have to start way back at the basics when you’re doing your live program, and of course the Hotshot program explains things perfectly clearly, so there’s no need for someone to be involved. That kind of model really makes the in-firm training better for sure.
Ralph Baxter: Right. I’m a big fan of a flipped classroom in any setting. My middle daughter decided when she was in middle school that she wanted to go to a particular high school in part, because education there was entirely that way. She took in all the substantive learning at night on her own, all the students did, and then the classroom experience was about applying it and building on it. That was a superior way to do it just for high school students. And this, I think it is much better.
Before I turn to Sara, let me go back to Ian for a moment. Can you give us just a quick overview of the subject areas that you do cover? I know it’s broad and Rick has just said it’s 150 or so. But can you just quantify it for us?
Ian Nelson: Yeah, sure. We’ve been hard at work lately, so I think we’re knocking on the door of 200 courses these days. Yeah, so we cover corporate litigation and business acumen and within that it breaks down.
So, we have the nuts and bolts of M&A, securities offerings, now we have some more advanced stuff on M&A, the nuts and bolts of civil litigation. We have depositions for mid-levels. We have venture financing, contents, excel and data analysis. Like we mentioned the accounting, the finance are coming soon. Actually now, unfortunately, the topic everyone is asking for is restructuring. So, we’re going have a whole bankruptcy and restructuring topic pretty soon. But our plan is to keep rolling out more legal business tech topics.
Ralph Baxter: Okay. All right. Thanks for that. All right. Sara, how do you — This is a very meaningful question. So, you’re the Harvard Law School, how do you use Hotshot at Harvard.
Sara Dana: Yeah. I’m in the career office, so we were viewing it — everyone at Harvard Law School has access to Hotshot. And so, the clinical program has access and has used it. But really my focus is in the career office and our view might be similar to Ian’s where as a young associate there were many times that I just had no idea what was even being asked of me, and wanted a quick way to figure things out. So, I thought that would be really attractive to our students.
We use it in — highlight it for students in two ways. One, is for first and second year students who are trying to figure out what they might want to do, if they don’t have lawyers in their family if they’re not familiar with the big law firm practice areas, it’s really a challenge to figure out what you might want to do particularly with most of the for first-year learning focused on litigation. We highlight it through our weekly emails to students and encourage them to use this as a way to sniff around and check out some of the transactional practice areas and what those look like in a real practical way. And then the second time that we really highlighted is before they head out on whether it be their summer associate positions, or when they’re getting ready to start at their firms.
Just yesterday, I was talking about the student who — his background, he was a philosophy major, wants to do corporate practice. He was really worried about his lack of a finance background, and it’s very easy to say, “Go check this out. You can look through the accounting and finance basics.” So, at least you can talk the talk and interviews and feel a little bit more confident and comfortable. Then we used it this summer, many students were starting their positions — their programs were delayed or shortened because of the pandemic. And so students had additional bandwidth and whereas many students might choose to take some time off. Harvard students were very eager to fill their plates, “What can I do to be productive during this time?”
Ian and I worked together and they put together a — we pitched it as a challenge to complete one or more of these learning tracks that hotshot put together for us, civil litigation basics, M&A basics, accounting and finance. If they completed all the courses in the track then they would get a certificate of completion and also Hotshot donated to first relief, which is an organization that provides PBE to frontline workers. The students loved that element and it was a way to fill their time productively in this summer.
Ralph Baxter: Yeah. That makes all the sense in the world and I’m sure every lawyer listening who started a career in a big law firm remembers well what it felt like showing up for the first day, right?
Ian Nelson: Yes.
Ralph Baxter: Right? Rick, you remember that?
Rick Jenney: Yes. It’s a long time ago, but it’s still crystal clear.
Ralph Baxter: I do too. I mean I remember thinking when I took accepted that first summer associate offer, what do I do now, how do I get ready for this. The first time I’d ever been in a law firm was when I walked in to an interview for a job one day. All right. Well, let’s turn to — we’re going to get into the practical applications here further. But Rick, would you share with the audience your assessment of the quality and value of these videos?
Rick Jenney: Yeah. It’s really amazing. First of all, the content is great and I might note that as Ian points out, I’m confident they double check and triple check the content, which you can’t say for every presentation made at a law firm. If you have some expert, no double checking needed, right? Well, the expert could maybe go off track, who knows. So, the content is great, but the speakers that the actors that present the programs are really good. They don’t have all the ticks, that I have, the “you knows” and “ums” and all of that stuff. These people are professionals. They speak well. They also have that anchorman quality of being calm and reassuring. It sounds like you’re going to understand the reverse triangular merger. It’s going to be okay. But really the best part is the way the integration of the audio and the visuals together works, and it’s really mostly the visuals, the diagrams and things. The intro to accounting is fantastic. I actually went to business school way back when, when I went to law school, so I know something about accounting. I watched that six months ago now, 30 some odd years after leaving business school. I thought, “Where was this?” back in the day.
This is a very clear explanation of how cash, accounts receivable turn into cash, and that turns into retained earnings and all that other accounting stuff. There’s nobody at my firm that can teach that anyway, we’re not accountants. I can’t think of a better visual way than to present it than the way Hotshot did. It’s not only the quality overall of the programs. It’s the fact that they’re on topics that we couldn’t even come close to or we just don’t have that expertise.
Ralph Baxter: When you said just now, when you saw this accounting video, where was this. That’s one way to put ourselves in touch with — as we look at these modern tools, Hotshot, we’re talking about today and there are others in other settings that that are now available to us in law school and law firms. The answer is, there wasn’t any such thing. This medium, this one too many, these companies that offer these solutions to the law firms and the law schools had to make big investments of time and money to prepare this and now they have. We just didn’t have it available to us at an earlier time and now we do.
Rick Jenney: Let me mention something it’s analogous to which only older attorneys will relate to, but younger attorneys may not know that redlining in the old days was done with a ruler and a felt tip pen. And so, when redlining of software was invented finally, I think collectively everybody I know said, “Where was this?” when I was a first year associate. So, it’s the same feeling.
Ralph Baxter: Exactly. Just one last question for you Rick about the videos and so on. Ian mentioned that there are quizzes and outlines and so on, do you find those helpful?
Rick Jenney: Yeah, those are definitely helpful and it’s part of pedagogical theory in general that if you ask people questions either before or after, or even both, ask them some things, tell them some things and then ask them some things it just sticks better and there’s no doubt that that’s — it doesn’t matter whether they get the answers right or not. It’s the process of thinking about it that way.
Ralph Baxter: That there’s just no question about what you just said. It just enhances the learning to have that interaction stimulate the participant to be something other than a passive participant. A lot of why education doesn’t work is you expect people to sit there and just take it in in a passive way, and that that just really doesn’t work. Sara, I would love to hear your thoughts about the quality and usefulness of the videos.
Sara Dana: I joke around a lot that our students will often review a resource and then be a little bit surprised that it was useful, something that we recommend. But I have to say I had the same reaction, where I thought like, “Okay. This is potentially going to be a little bit corny.” I was really blown away at how much it felt authentic, it felt like an attorney sitting there walking you through how to do something, how to review a document. Our students have had the same reaction. I know Ian got a lot of glowing emails this summer from that program. And so, the student reaction has been very positive, I think. It’s really well done. It’s exactly what they need. They can access it when they need it. I think just the quality of it, again just being thoughtful about what is presented and what’s not, so that it’s nice and short and sweet and then it’s presented well. So, our students have loved it.
Ralph Baxter: Do you think those videos seem genuine to the students?
Sara Dana: Yeah. Absolutely. That was my biggest concern when I heard about it was envisioning these hokey actors, trying to pretend to be lawyers but it doesn’t come across that way at all.
Ralph Baxter: Yeah. I had worried about that myself when Ian and Chris were planning this, and this whole question actors doing it. It’s important for the listeners to know that that is your reaction to it. So, you’ve started Sara talking about this. The student reaction — I’m hearing you say the student reaction is positive. Any other thoughts to share about student reaction to the videos?
Sara Dana: If you think about how students have been learning things during their time, whereas I might have picked up a book to figure out how to do something, or then in later years Googled it. I think they really like to see short and sweet videos if you’re trying to figure out how to put together a bookshelf from Ikea, you could read the directions they give you or you can look up a video on how to put together a bookshelf. I think students like those short videos and they like to be able to access the content when they need it. The beginning of one all year is not when you want to hear. Let’s use the reverse triangular merger again. That’s not what you want to hear then, but in that moment when you get the assignment you want to be able to access that, not have to flip back through notes or something from a presentation you saw in the fall. Both of those things I think are really attractive to our students
Ralph Baxter: Great. All right. Rick, can you talk about how the lawyers at Morrison use Hotshot?
Ian Nelson: Sure. Young attorneys and for that matter, everybody these days were accustomed to Googling things, right? You go to the internet at large, and you can’t trust the quality and it’s hard to find things.
Let’s use a forward triangular merger as the example. I don’t even really know what that is because I’m a finance lawyer. If it’s 7:00 p.m. and the junior associate has got to understand the forward triangular merger and do some red flag spotting or whatever. They need to know what’s red flag, what’s for triangular merger. They didn’t know that until 10 minutes ago when the partner gave him the assignment. This is exactly what on-demand training is. It’s when there’s an urgent need Hotshot is always there. One of the corollaries to the whole idea, not only does it make attorneys better doing what their task is to do, but it really reduced stress. First of all, finding that Hotshot program on the merger format is like a wonderful thing to find at 7:15 at night when you really, really, really want to learn it in 10 minutes.
More generally, just knowing hotshots there and going through the process of using it when you’re urgently trying to figure something out feeds into the whole trend in — particularly among big law firms of wellness, anti-burnout, job satisfaction, associate stress reduction. I mean associates stress, being away from their desk for 60 minutes to go to a conference room for training. This is almost exactly the opposite of that. They’re not leaving. They’re sitting there at their desk and they’re pulling up what they want, not what someone wants to tell them. I haven’t been an associate in a while, but even I use it to figure things out, and it reduces my stress. I can imagine it does that for associates as well.
Ralph Baxter: Well, that’s a hugely important point. We’re going to increasingly — I think this is actually one of the things that will come out of the pandemic is that we’re going to be more concerned about wellness issues for all of our people because we’ve all had are living through this anxiety about the health threats of COVID-19. That’s a very important point you’re making.
The other issue is the on-demand feature of it that plays into what you just said. The people have these complicated schedules. It’s one thing when they’ve been asked to do something that they don’t know much about some evening and they’ve got to quickly learn it is another when they have something they’d like to learn, but it’s easier for them to fit it in when it makes sense in the context of everything else they’re doing which this provides.
Well at this time, it has gone very fast. I’ve so enjoyed it. Let me just close in their conversation by asking each of you if there’s something else I didn’t ask you about that you’d like to share with our listeners about Hotshot. Let me start Sara, with you.
Sara Dana: I guess I would just encourage the listeners to check it out, watch one video. I think at least for us at Harvard we were relatively sold after just seeing one or two videos and saying, “Oh, they really know what they’re doing.” So, I’d encourage you if you’re thinking about it to check it out, because this really is how students and young attorneys like to learn.
Ralph Baxter: Thank you, Sara. Rick.
Rick Jenney: Yeah. And I would just say this is good timing. I mean the pandemic means you can’t walk down the hall and ask somebody a question or otherwise get information readily because you’re all in the same building. If any, this is the time to definitely take a look at Hotshot and other programs like that. It’s not unique but it’s the best that I’ve seen.
Ralph Baxter: All right. Thank you, Rick. And Ian, closing thoughts from you.
Ian Nelson: Yeah. I just want to thank you all for this time. I really appreciate a number of levels and whether someone listening is a customer or not, or won’t ever be. I just think it’s such an important time to think about how we’re training students and lawyers, and these blends of learning tips, and making things more engaging, especially now that we’re remote is so important. We always like to tell our customers that we’re Hotshot, or a resource like Hotshot should never replace the training a firm does. Let’s just think about the best use of the firm’s resources, how to get people together, and it might not always be a straight lecture of people. That is the concept we’re trying to get across these days. I’m just deeply appreciative to you all. Thank you very much.
Ralph Baxter: Well, thank you Ian and thank you Sara and Rick for joining us on the podcast.
Rick Jenney: Thank you.
Sara Dana: Thank you.
Ralph Baxter: And also thank you for being willing to connect with our listeners if they’d like to learn more from you. All of our guests today have graciously agreed that if you want to you can reach out to them. You can reach Sara at [email protected]. You can reach Rick at [email protected] and you can reach Ian at [email protected].
I want to say a couple of things here at the end, to put today’s episode in context. As I wrote in my July 29 post on Legal Services Today, we find ourselves in a uniquely conducive moment for progress in law. We’ve been working in a new model, compelled by the pandemic for months now. We have learned a lot.
Among the things we have learned is that new models work. So, we were suddenly tossed into a new working model and it worked. We learned the technology enables us to do things in a truly better way, not just in a pandemic, but for any time.
Today, we’ve talked about one particular of model, how we train new lawyers. We know there is this pressure from the clients. We hear so often, all the clients won’t pay for first year associates. Of course, they will pay for first year associates. What they don’t want to pay for is someone who doesn’t know anything, and that may be an overstatement but they know a lot, but they know much about how to really do what the layers are expected to do. That’s a problem.
The models we’ve had traditionally are suboptimal, as good as everybody is and it’s well-intentioned as they are. Now, we know there is a better way. This is just one example but it’s an important example, but it’s one example of what is in the world for us. This pandemic at some point is going to subside, at some we’re going to be able to return to what will now be our operating normal. We don’t know what that would be, we don’t know when it would be, but we’re going to have a model and we’re going to be able to make choices, because our traditional model was interrupted. Now, we all make choices about what will our model be going forward. That point is the one I want to emphasize at the end here today. This is the time when we have those choices to make for all of us in law to embrace what is now possible, so that we can make law better for everyone.
So, thank you all for listening. I would like to thank everyone for participating. I want to thank all of you for listening. If you like this, please review us on Google or Apple, or whatever you get your podcast. And please recommend us to your friends who care about law. We’re interested in having listeners who aren’t lawyers themselves, but people who are touched by the law, who care about the law, we welcome them to tune in. And until next time, this is Ralph Baxter for Law Technology Now.
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