Last month our collaboration space was the venue for an experiment, an internally-led and designed coding workshop. Twelve participants - a mix of trainees, associates, PSLs and members of business services - were supported over three sessions through an introductory course in coding by four mentors - two colleagues from our IT development team and two sixth-formers from our partner school, Central Foundation Boys' School.

We have an ongoing programme of Innovation-related training here at the firm and I had researched potential external providers for a coding workshop but none of them felt like quite the right fit. Then at one of our design thinking workshops I was discussing this with two colleagues, an IT developer and a legal tech specialist,  and we had the idea to create a workshop of our own using the firm's existing resources. We knew from our experience with design thinking that this would also give the business valuable additional benefits from the increased collaboration both within and between the legal and business services populations.  

We were clear from the beginning that the training was not to create developer-lawyer hybrids but rather to increase digital literacy among our lawyers, and those in business services, so that they could have better conversations with clients and more easily spot opportunities where we can use technology to improve our service. 

The project started with a core team from IT, Knowledge Management and Learning and Development but we soon added a colleague from our Inclusion and Corporate Responsibility team when we spotted the opportunity to strengthen our ties with one of our partner schools. 

Feedback from the first three sessions has been great with all the participants giving the experience the highest possible rating. The format of self-paced learning with mentor support was well-received and the mentors' ability to respond to a variety of different learning styles and provide the right encouragement was particularly appreciated.

While getting the workshop from the initial idea to implementation probably took longer than it would have done with an external provider, the result has been a greater return on the participants' valuable time as, in addition to improving their digital literacy, they have grown their network internally and the mentoring aspect has been an enjoyable development opportunity for us and our partnering students.