Every Summer, Simmons & Simmons have an annual promotion round where they promote high performing lawyers to the next level of seniority. To support this move, they need to equip their lawyers with the non-technical skills to do their new job.


Simmons & Simmons engaged with us to help them deliver the content and curriculum to support the promotions of lawyers into an Associate or Supervising Associate role. The first step of the process was for us to understand what skills their lawyers needed to do their job, so we began with a ‘Listening project’. We started with the Learning & Development/HR team through 1-2-1 in-depth calls to understand what they felt the newly promoted lawyers needed. We then moved onto the Business Development team and Commercial teams and finally we spoke to various heads of department. We also ran a survey with those who were promoted last year asking them what valuable things they had learnt or wish they had learnt when progressing into the new role.

This insight was then distilled into key learning objectives for both the Associates and Supervising Associates roles, leading to a curriculum being drawn up and a training programme created to deliver the required learning.

We developed the content, co-creating sections of it with Simmons & Simmons Commercial and New Business Development teams to reflect the specific way in which they work. We opted to run the training sessions using the ‘Tell, Show, Do’ method: ‘Tell’ them a piece of theory. ‘Show’ them a case study or worked-up example. Then they ‘Do’ an interactive piece of work to practise the new content. We also drew on the expertise of specialists in the Treehouse network, for example, to provide insights into New Business Development it the legal market.

To ensure the learnings were easy to remember, we used props and materials that were memorable and engaging – delegates would experience a hit of dopamine and thus create a spark of memory for the learning to stick.

Long term support is important to ensure that learning and development sticks, so as part of the programme we introduced ‘Action Learning sets’ where every delegate was part of an 8-person group that came together to have further coaching. These Action Learning Sets shared best practice and results, and supported delegates with additional hints and tips to ensure continued improvement.


The programme is still underway, but the so far feedback has been very positive, with delegates saying the highpoints of their learning so far have been;

1. Asking ‘sparky’ questions and listening properly to the answers really helps to understand clients and what they want

2. Tailoring behaviour to suit the people you are collaborating with or trying to influence really works

3. Recognising the need to start becoming a manager for others and that adopting the right managerial style gets the best out of people