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February 19, 2024

Transforming Legal Training: AltaClaro’s Origin Story and How it's Bridging the Practical Skills Gap

In the landscape of legal training, a remarkable shift is occurring. AltaClaro’s Founder and CEO, Abdi Shayesteh, was recently featured in an episode of the “The Un-Billable Hour,” hosted by Christopher Anderson, to discuss how experiential learning has transformed the legal field. 

Join us as we cover the key highlights from that episode, including the current gap in legal training, AltaClaro’s unique approach and impact, and its vision for the future.


The Origins of AltaClaro

Abdi’s entrepreneurial ventures began early, founding a clothing company at the age of 17 and co-founding a fintech company at age 26. However, it was his experiences as a lawyer later in life that drove him to found AltaClaro, an experiential learning platform that’s changing the way lawyers are trained.

With a career spanning over 15 years in various legal settings, including big law firms and in-house roles, Abdi gained valuable insights into the challenge of training new associates. Despite their extensive legal education, he saw that many lawyers enter the workforce unprepared for the practical demands of their profession. Abdi shared his personal struggle, saying, “In the early days, whether it was a boutique firm or a large law firm, I was trying to figure this stuff out — and realizing after paying a hundred thousand dollars on my legal education that law school didn’t teach me anything for actual practice and that you’re supposed to learn the stuff on the job.”

Abdi further highlighted how the apprenticeship model, once a cornerstone of legal training, had “withered away” by the time he entered the legal workforce, leaving many lawyers unprepared for the practical demands of their profession. He recounted, “You get thrown in deals to sink or swim, and I really [...] got lucky. I was lucky that in those settings my office was just a door down from the corner office of a senior lawyer who was willing to sit me down to explain things to me.”

Abdi also noted how he witnessed the inefficiency of traditional training methods firsthand. He shared that while training young lawyers at King & Spalding, “I would look at those bills and see associates spending 10 hours on marking up an NDA which should have taken them an hour.” As a result, he had to write those costs down because it wasn’t justifiable to pass the expense of training associates onto their clients, even if those new lawyers needed that valuable experience to develop their skills.

These realizations led Abdi to envision a platform where legal professionals could receive the mentorship and hands-on experience they need—a need that both traditional law school education and firm training practices often fail to meet.


AltaClaro: A Platform for Real-World Legal Skills

Guided by Abdi’s vision, AltaClaro has emerged as a proven solution to this educational gap. The platform utilizes a unique blend of mock transactions, simulations, and live and virtual feedback sessions, all under the guidance of seasoned practitioners and mentors. “It’s all about learning by doing and receiving feedback [...] on your simulated work product,” Abdi explained. “You have to get in the water, in the shallow-end hopefully and apply these techniques and get feedback from a coach in real-time.” This model ensures that learning goes beyond theoretical knowledge, allowing new associates to engage in real-world scenarios and develop practical skills crucial for their professional growth. 

The need for such an innovative and effective approach in legal training is underscored by recent industry trends. Referring to a recent article, Abdi commented, “In-house counsel complained that the associates at these firms over the last couple of years are not trained well and that they’re telling the firms, please train your associates better.” This feedback points to the industry’s painful awareness of a knowledge gap, exacerbated by the pandemic and leading to numerous write-offs. 

Targeting these pain points, the effectiveness of AltaClaro’s Learn, Do, Review methodology is not just theoretical but backed by measurable outcomes. An independent research firm, hired by AltaClaro, surveyed partners, practice group leaders, and professional development managers from client firms. The findings were significant: firms reported a 0.5% revenue increase, first-year associates showed a 1-2% increase in realization rates, and associate retention rose by 2-4% improvement, projecting an ROI of over 300-350% in a one-year period. Moreover, partners noted a 10% decrease in time spent on reviewing and fixing associate errors. Abdi added with confidence that firms would “definitely recoup their cost in a three-month period,” thanks to the robust foundation of knowledge that new associates build through AltaClaro. 


The Future of Legal Training

The potential of AI in transforming legal education and practice is immense. To no surprise, AltaClaro is at the forefront of this innovation, having already integrated AI into their legal training. Initially sparked as a result of a collaboration with one of their largest clients, Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe, AltaClaro has created a course called “The Fundamentals of Prompt Engineering for Lawyers.” 

This technology-neutral course provides lawyers with a comprehensive understanding of how to effectively utilize AI tools in their practice. In addition, lawyers are guided on how to integrate these tools both responsibility and ethically. The course crucially emphasizes critical thinking and the strategic use of AI, enabling lawyers to craft effective prompts that yield relevant and precise results, harnessing AI’s full potential.

Abdi also outlined the future integration of AI into AltaClaro’s platform. “Imagine after going through, let’s say, a course on NDA, you now have ten additional problem sets you can work on through simulations, kind of like a flight simulator.” This flight simulator analogy, when applied to legal training, indicates a move towards even more immersive and personalized learning experiences. 


Looking for a Proven Legal Training Solution?

There’s a reason why firms such as K&L Gates, Holland & Knight, Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe, Allen & Overy, and Ropes & Gray trust AltaClaro for their legal skills training.

With AltaClaro, you can get your associates billing sooner, increase training retention and engagement, and save on resources used for legal skills training. Our online boot camps help lawyers leverage technology and learn practical legal skills in a hybrid format through mock transactions and live feedback sessions with seasoned practitioners. From programs in M&A Transactions and Corporate Transactions to Capital Markets, Lending Transactions, Real Estate, and IP/Technology Transactions, our course catalog spans beginner to intermediate level classes. 


Schedule a free 30-minute consultation with one of our experts and learn how you can empower your associates to hit the ground running.

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