COVID-19 May Wreak Havoc On Training For In-House Attys

By Emma Cueto
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Law360 (May 18, 2020, 8:25 PM EDT) -- A survey released Monday by the Association of Corporate Counsel on the impact of COVID-19 on in-house training programs found not only that many attorneys expect training budgets will be cut as a result of the pandemic, but that a sizable portion of corporate attorneys only plan to attend in-person events after a vaccine is available.

The survey, which included responses from 405 in-house attorneys, found that only 17% of respondents are prepared to physically attend training and educational events as soon as stay-at-home orders are lifted.

The most common response, given by about 45% of the attorneys, was to hold off on trainings unless there were additional health and safety precautions, such as limited attendance and mandatory protective gear. However, more than one in four respondents also said they plan to wait for a vaccine — and 3% would prefer to switch to virtual attendance permanently.

Seven percent indicated that they have some other criteria for deciding when or if to resume in-person trainings.

"Continuing legal education and training are a core requirement for in-house counsel to ensure they stay on the leading edge of innovation and information, especially in this turbulent business environment," Veta T. Richardson, president and CEO of ACC, said in a statement. "These poll results touch on the concerns and challenges our members are facing with respect to one of their core responsibilities."

Richardson added that the ACC plans to use the data to help shape its future training opportunities.

In addition to safety concerns, in-house counsel also appear to be worried about training budgets. The survey found that 46% of respondents expect that the virus will cause a decrease in their training and education budget in the next year, with an additional 21% reporting that they are unsure. However, about 30% indicated that they don't expect the budget to change.

About two in three respondents also indicated that the COVID-19 outbreak has already prevented them from attending a planned in-person training event.

--Editing by Alanna Weissman.

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