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Kinstellar: Using Digital and Blended Learning to Scale Training Across Borders

By Katie Walter


How a firm with offices across Europe and Asia creates an engaging and consistent learning environment.

How does a 10-office firm spread out across Central and Eastern Europe and Central Asia equip its attorneys to practice globally while delivering top-notch results locally?

For Kinstellar, the answer lies in a thoughtful mix of foundational online learning and local conversation and materials. This combination helps associates gain a consistent foundational knowledge of generally-applicable concepts and practice skills and then discuss similarities and differences in the region where they practice.

“We used to hold a global foundation M&A course, delivered by senior partners,” says Marie Hélène Côté, head of Learning & Development at Kinstellar.

The instructor-led sessions focused on the basics of a deal and touched on the complexities of practicing across borders and serving clients in different jurisdictions. Because participants were from different countries, the course did not cover local specificities in much detail. Given the scheduling complexities and cost of organizing the course, it was held once every 12 to 18 months.

“So, if you joined the firm the day after the training was delivered, you might have to wait a year or more to get the benefit of the training,” Marie Hélène reports.

She went looking for a solution that would reduce this time lag and meet global and local learning needs. She found Hotshot and began to test the learning model in her firm. In addition to encouraging new joiners to take Hotshot courses in M&A Basics and Accounting & Finance as part of their onboarding Marie Hélène and her team work with practice heads to use digital learning to create even more meaningful in-person learning experiences.

“We have a great opportunity to use online and in-person learning together to make our attorneys more effective,” says Marie Hélène.

In 2017 leaders in Prague and Bucharest initiated a series of development sessions where the teams watched Hotshot courses together, using the U.S. law as an example to set their common foundation, and then discussed the local laws and approach. The session leader followed up with all the local documents and rules that applied to that situation.

“The participants appreciated the mix of Hotshot videos with explanation of basic U.S. law concepts and the fact that they could immediately discuss with our facilitators how these are used in transactions governed by local law,”. says Petr Měšťánek, head of Know-How.

Not only does this help set a common foundation across Kinstellar offices, it offers new attorneys an opportunity to better understand the perspective of everyone involved in a matter. According to Marie Hélène, “There are often U.S. attorneys involved in our deals. This material gives our attorneys a better frame of reference for some of the questions and issues that come up with their U.S. counterparts – ‘oh, that’s why she’s asking that.’ And then with context from more senior attorneys, they know how to answer.”

Using Hotshot materials for the foundational information allows senior attorneys to use their instruction time for these nuanced and more advanced discussions. Attorneys appreciate this, and many are asking for more blended learning, Marie Hélène says. In 2018, Kinstellar organized classroom M&A advanced training for senior lawyers that tackle more complex issues, where face-to-face discussions and networking across offices are highly valuable. More is planned for 2019.

“Because of local law and qualification requirements, each office has to handle the localized part of its training,” she says. “We can better support that now with digital learning that scales, providing consistent, quality training across offices. With firm-wide live, instructor-led training as our only option, we really struggled to do that. Now we have more time to find solutions with them.”