How to become a better lawyer by learning from those you teach.
What is “reverse learning” and how can we apply it?
This was a concept I had not heard of until recently while having coffee with a few girlfriends – social distancing of course. I love friends who come at life with views that are different from mine and from each other, I always learn so much from the diversity of thought. This day in particular, we were discussing the LiL blog which, to my delight they all follow despite not one of them being a lawyer. You see, they are all professionals and in many ways feel LiL provides them with guidance and optimism for togetherness and change, regardless of its legal focus.
In any event, the topic turned to our kids and the generations surrounding them. One of my friends expressed that they were concerned that some of the younger generations do not want to work as hard as we did to get where we are (we are all about 30 years into our various professions). This statement sparked an interesting and educational conversation as soon as someone else spoke up with a different view, a view based on the phrase “reverse learning”. She expressed that maybe there was a different perspective that we needed to consider; perhaps the younger generation has this right. Maybe it is not that they do not want to work as hard but that they want to work differently and smarter than we did. Maybe they have different goals in mind and have found a different way to accomplish them. What if we have the opportunity to learn from those we believe we need to teach? She suggested we consider the concept of “reverse learning”.
I am open to the concept of being taught by someone who I assumed I needed to teach, and I think it is important for those of us who provide guidance to our junior lawyers to ask ourselves some questions. How can learning make me a better senior lawyer? How can I assist junior lawyers in becoming better? To speak to a recent blog post by my colleague Rose Shawlee (read that gem here) – how can I be a champion for someone? How can I work more effectively with my juniors? These are all very valid questions.
I have been thinking about this for a few months now and I am convinced there is power in this line of thinking. LiL is a platform that assists women in the practice of law, and I know there is value in women with differing levels of experience and expertise learning from each other. I ask us to consider and revel in the reality that the younger generation has much wisdom to impart. It is important that we not lose sight of this when working with and training junior lawyers at the start of their careers. I am so happy that we are embracing all of this through our new LiL Student Life initiative that not only provides a safe environment for articling students to ask questions but also gives them an opportunity to share their insights and perspectives with everyone on this platform. There is so much wisdom to be had by learning how others operate and think, and I’m excited to explore that through the Dear LiL blog.
About the Author
Kim Jakeman is a partner at Harper Grey and – in case this is your first time here – also the co-founder of Life in Law. Not only is Kim a skilled mediator, she also maintains a busy dual practice focused mainly on litigation in the area of medical malpractice, and regulatory work involving professionals facing disciplinary proceedings before a variety of regulatory bodies. Kim is almost as passionate about biking, her new love of surfing, and working out as she is about supporting women in the legal profession. A master of her own balancing act, when Kim isn’t busy with work, she spends coveted time with her family and friends.