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Elevate’s T-Shaped Legal Professional Program Delivers Legal and Business Acumen Across Functions

By Katie Walter

Elevate T-shape

How a global firm created a self-directed, remote training program to help all employees deliver better service.

When Yogesh Bendre stepped into his role leading global Learning & Development for Elevate in 2019, he had an exciting challenge in front of him. He was to create a program that built on and expanded the broad legal, technology, and finance background of Elevate’s consultants.

“We provide cross-functional consulting services to law firms globally,” Yogesh says. “Our teams need to know enough about both the practice and business of law to help firms solve complex operational challenges.”

Elevate’s CEO, Liam Brown, was inspired by the idea of the T-shaped lawyer, a concept from Amani Smathers that says modern lawyers need to have deep legal expertise and broad business and technical expertise. As the leadership team considered adapting the model for Elevate, they quickly realized that all employees could benefit from it, not just those who had gone to law school.

Yogesh needed to develop a program that met individuals at their level of skill and interest and enable them to fit their trainings into their own schedules. The team is global and often working on customer projects at different times (and in different time zones), so the program couldn’t rely on synchronous and in-person training.

The T-Shaped Legal Professional Program

“For us to succeed – and help our customers succeed – we all need to know something about the law, as well as finances, customer management, customer service, project management, and IT,” says Yogesh, who also now leads the People Function for Elevate’s Asia Pacific region. “And we need to be able to learn in a global context on our own time.” He worked with the Hotshot team and launched a pilot of the T-Shaped Legal Professional in January 2020. The program has since launched to the broader organization, and employees continue to join it every few months.

Yogesh’s team created a learning channel on the company’s learning management system, using Hotshot, CrossKnowledge, and Practising Law Institute courses for legal, finance, and Microsoft Office trainings and in-house content for the more technology-focused topics. The main topics of the program include:

  • Financial industry knowledge
  • Microsoft Office
  • Legal knowledge and skills, including civil litigation, M&A, securities, and venture financing

Yogesh worked with Hotshot Head of Customer Success Caitie McCarthy to identify courses that most closely met Elevate’s business goals. He and McCarthy worked together to decide what order to assign the courses and develop quizzes to assess proficiency. “Hotshot helped us curate the exact courses we needed to fit our boxes,” Yogesh says. “It was a real partnership.” “We promise our customers a workforce that is trained and absolutely knowledgeable,” Yogesh says. “This particular program helps us deliver on the promise. We have professionals in our organization who are T-shaped Certified, and our customers appreciate it.”

“Part of what makes our talent so successful through their contracting careers is their ability to ‘hit the ground running’ when they step onto a new engagement and adding a value that many permanent employees can’t,” says Hannah Firth, an Engagement Manager for ElevateFlex, based in London. “This is due to being exposed to different environments, flexing their skill-sets beyond the ordinary and taking that breadth of learning into other businesses. The T-Shaped Program is all about this – broadening the experience of individuals, for them to then take these learnings to the clients.”

Senior IT Manager and Certified T-Shaped Professional Sean McNiff agrees: “The better you understand your customers’ business and business processes, the better you can understand their needs and how to provide the most effective and efficient solutions,” he says. “I will never need to draft a set of interrogatories, but it’s good that I know what that means and how it fits into the bigger picture.”

Format Matters

“We start with a simple instructor-led session to share the objectives of the program and how to stay actively engaged,” Yogesh says. From there, participants take online courses on their own schedule. Completion is tracked on the learning channel, and completion rates are high. “It helps that everyone has opted in or volunteered for the program, and the time commitment is less than four hours per month,” Yogesh says.

Both Sean and Hannah appreciated the program’s format, which enabled them to learn and show mastery on their own schedule. “The delivery made it very easy to stay on course. Since many of the Hotshot modules were so brief, it was very easy to complete at least one of them per day, and momentum is important for any kind of continuing education,” Sean says. “Hotshot courses are bite-sized and easy for people to fit into their day,” Yogesh says. “This is the kind of training we want to provide because no one has time for a synchronous 10-hour training intensive. People want to learn this way.”

Hannah agrees: “As much as I want to be able to do gain a deep understanding of every element of a client’s work, it’s hard to find the time to go deep,” she says. “The T-Shaped Legal Professional Program delivers the right level of knowledge in an engaging, effective format – allowing me to carve out the time to undergo this important learning.”

Yogesh and his team will continue to add content to the program, looking at project management, communication, and IT. Demand has remained high through the pandemic, and more and more Elevate associates will have access to the program and Hotshot courses that help them round out their knowledge of their customers’ environments and challenges.

“We’ve really appreciated working with the Hotshot team to curate courses and resources that fit the curriculum,” Yogesh says. “It has been a great partnership, and our customers and colleagues are all benefitting from it.”