When it comes to selling, firms increasingly recognize that lawyers need coaching. We can only hope that when it comes to doing the work, law firms recognize the same is true. 

Video Trains Lawyers Not to Be Boors in the National Law Journal reports that Pillsbury Winthrop has created training videos that illustrate various mistakes – from horrendous to subtle – that lawyers can make in pitching a client. The horrendous include arriving late, dressing inappropriately, and using a BlackBerry during the meeting. The video addresses the concern that “lawyers are not putting their best foot forward in face-to-face meetings.” Several other large firms “have been among the many firms that have experimented with one-on-one sales coaching for partners.”

So, the myth has been punctured – lawyers really don’t know how to do everything perfectly. As a client, I would want my outside counsel to devote similar effort to training lawyers on how they do work. Lawyers may receive adequate substantive training, but there is scant evidence that they receive enough on how to practice.

Where is the video that shows the blunder of building a discovery “document database” in Word? The deal meister who tracks changes on a complex document instead of using specialized comparison software? The litigator who has never heard of CaseSoft or considered using it? The lawyer who fails to remove meta-data (including a different firm shown as author) from the document sent to a client? The firm that has no way to locate its own experts or prior work product?

In selecting outside counsel, perhaps general counsels should consider whether firms invest more in sales training than practice training. That training should include application of best practices and appropriate use of technology.