Using Learning Bursts to Improve Your Contract Expertise

May 21, 2022

As contract lawyers, we are technicians first. We are and need to stay experts in all the different subject matters that come up with our work. That can feel overwhelming when there are thousands of individual contract topics to learn.

We know we have to stay lifelong learners, but how exactly do we do that?

Here's the technique that I found works best for me.

  1. I schedule a regular block of time on my calendar for "Important — Skill Development."

I am a sucker for mental tricks and labeling it important helps remind me it is. Longer blocks work better for me, so I might schedule a three-hour block on the first day of each month. I may have to do something more urgent instead, but I try to protect the time.

  1. I pick a narrow subject that I'm unsure about.

It could be indemnity exclusions or warranty remedies, or revenue recognition for services.

  1. I start diving deep.

I read everything I can find on that narrow topic — blogs, books, cases, law review articles, whatever I can. My goal is to seek practical guidance on things I need to know. I stay away from fluff and focus on specific guidance that will be useful to my job.

  1. I take detailed notes in my personal contract playbook.

Mine goes back to 1998. I'm not always as diligent in updating it, but I try to add helpful information I'd like to refer to later.

  1. Repeat.

That's it.