Associate training and retention has certainly taken a backseat in this new era of layoffs and deferred start dates, but Drinker Biddle is bucking the trend with a new program for its Fall Associates. The comprehensive training program includes courses taught by attorneys, professional development staff and clients. Associates will also shadow partners and may assist with some client work. Initial feedback from clients has been positive.
Kudo’s to Drinker Biddle for responding to client feedback and thinking long-term about the success of their young lawyers.
To read more about the program, click here.
Does that question send chills down your spine? At a recent symposium on legal education, Professor David Chavkin of the University of Washington School of Law, put it this way:
“If the goal of medical school were to teach students not how to be doctors, but how to think like doctors, would you want to be a graduate’s first patient?”
Practical legal education has been a topic of discussion for at least the last 20 years, but the noise seems to be growing louder and louder. In today’s world of increased competition, the need to hit the ground running and be immediately productive, is extremely high. Those new lawyers who were exposed to the actual practice of law, are bound to be more successful than their counterparts.
While law schools continue to add more clinics and practice-based classes, I would argue that it is incumbent upon law firms to implement comprehensive training programs that address the needs of new lawyers, including legal research and writing. Surveys show that new lawyers will spend 80% of their time in the first three years on legal research and writing. If that is true, then sharpening those skills is even more important than almost anything else.
I found a link to this intriguing article from Ad Week on the (non)billable hour blog. Although the article is focusing on graduates in the marketing field, the author’s observations apply to 20-somethings generally. We’ve been hearing about this generation for the past few years, but have law firms adapted? Are we ready for this generation and the next? As Matt Homann points out on his blog…”love ’em or hate ’em, they’re not just your children, they’re your future clients, employees and partners.”
Here are some interesting quotes from the article:
How they live has everything to do with how they work. They time shift. Favorite shows happen online on-demand. News is 24/7. There’s not much use for e-mail. Instead, they’re YouTubing, Stumbling, Digging, Twittering, blogging, updating. They’re Loopted and LinkedIn. Caffeine drives the day and night. In this world, wristwatches and alarm clocks are as necessary as rabbit ears. They grew up IMing, and the cell phone rules. Area-code identity is mobile but long lasting — a virtual network.
All this makes them, at their best, unbelievably creative and productive. On the other hand, they also think they have all the answers. Morley Safer wrote recently of this generation’s entitlement issues: They’ve grown up with everyone as winners, with inspired birthday parties and planned events, with middle-class privilege and opportunities at every camp, academy and take-your-kid-to-work experience. They expect careers, not jobs.
Buckle up. This group does not look or work the same as generations past.
To read the article in its entirety, click here.
Although the total number of responses was small, the results were very interesting, especially in light of all the recent news. To get some perspective, almost all of the responses came from library managers and directors at firms of 201 or more attorneys, and the overwhelming majority had between 6 and 30 Fall Associates this year.
According to the results, 50% said that the size of their class was the same as last year, 20% said it was larger, and only one firm had no Fall Associates. 90% said that the Associates arrived the same time this year as they did last year. This seems contrary to what is being reported on blogs and in the legal news. I was especially interested in whether there were any changes to the date of arrival compared to last year, but there doesn’t seem to be a significant change at the firms in this survey.
Two-thirds of the respondents “love” this time of year, one-third “loathe” this time, and one commented on their indifference. The majority, 77%, get 30 minutes or more on the orientation schedule. I did get one comment from a librarian, with a sizable class of 16 – 20 Fall Associates, who got zero time on the orientation schedule. I hope that this is an aberration, so please feel free to comment if you have any best practices on how librarians can be a formal part of the orientation process.
Although this can be a stressful time of year, it is certainly an opportunity to impact the young attorneys, and, hopefully, cultivate some library champions.
I hope that this information is useful or at least interesting! Our next survey will be up soon, so please check back!