Iterating on the Delta Model: Practice, Process, People

We intend the Delta Model for Lawyer Competency to be iterative and agile, meaning we will constantly seek to update and improve as we learn more about lawyer competencies and how best to communicate them through the model.

The latest iteration adopts the labels People, Process, and Practice for the three sides of the Delta. I started using these labels in talking about the Delta and found they both accurately capture the content as well as people’s attention.

Delta Model v.4: descriptors of Practice, Process, People
Image courtesy of Alyson Carrel.
Delta Model v.4: competencies of Practice, Process, People
Image courtesy of Alyson Carrel.

As my fellow working group member Alyson Carrel and I work to improve the Delta Model’s utility, we seek to make it as accessible and useful as possible while also integrating all that we know and are discovering about modern lawyer competencies.

Another step we’re taking is to dig deep into IAAL’s Foundations for Practice initiative and its research into lawyer skills and competencies. By overlaying this research with our own qualitative and quantitative original research, along with the research of others in the legal profession and relevant research on 21st-century skills for knowledge workers generally, we seek to identify the most relevant and desirable skills and build out from here. This enables anyone using the model to start with core competencies and then dig deeper based on individual professional development goals.

We’re currently conducting workshops in law schools and with practicing lawyers, and working with career services in law schools to develop tools and methods for integrating the Delta Model into career planning early on in the process.

As we iterate on these early tool prototypes, we’ll be adding resources to Design Your Delta, where we plan to share with anyone interested in using the Delta Model. Consistent with the original goals of the MacCrate Report’s Statement of Skills and Values for lawyers, we view the Delta Model as highly useful for law students (course and career planning), law schools (curricular planning and development), legal services organizations of all types (hiring, training, and retention), and practicing legal professionals (ongoing learning, professional development, upskilling, and generally thriving).

Most days I feel the seemingly utter futility of this effort — into which Alyson and I are pouring a considerable amount of effort and time — to affect any real change for the better in either how we train new lawyers or how practicing lawyers approach their own professional development.

There is so much room for improvement in both areas and the more time I spend in research and understanding, the more I believe both can benefit immensely from starting with a clearly-articulated understanding of what competencies lawyers actually need in today’s world (and beyond) in order to simultaneously do excellent work and thrive as individual humans.

I’m way over microblog limit so shall return soon to finish up these thoughts. Today, I am optimistic. And impatient.

-CM

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