Does your firm have any first year lawyers starting work today? I have an attorney development manifesto for you to consider.
What is a manifesto? I looked it up and here is what I found:
A manifesto is a published verbal declaration of the intentions, motives, or views of the issuer, be it an individual, group, political party or government.
When I was in charge of attorney development in my old law firm, there came a time when firm leaders wanted to cut back on attorney development. I hear that is happening again in many law firms. So, here today is my Attorney Development Manifesto.
Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.
I guess the firms that are cutting back think it will improve their Profits per Partner (PPP). It may over the short term, but over the long term…
What is your firm’s purpose, vision, and its core values relating to its attorney development program? Here is what I suggest you consider:
The purpose of our law firm Attorney Development Program is to enable our attorneys to better serve our clients, to increase our realization, and to provide opportunities for greater achievement and career satisfaction.
We seek to have an attorney development program recognized as preeminent by our clients, our lawyers and law students.
- Our attorneys will take responsibility for their career development and satisfaction.
- Each attorney, associate, partner, and of counsel must contribute in some way.
- Supervising lawyers will give clear direction, answer questions, pay attention to quality, and provide real time constructive and supportive feedback.
- Teamwork is encouraged at all levels.
- Each attorney and staff member will be shown respect. Respect engenders respect.
- We will endeavor to provide consistent, real and specific direction on career advancement.
- CLE will be used as a means of acquiring skills necessary to better serve our clients and enable our attorneys to grow.
- We will demand a lot from our lawyers. They will work hard, meet high standards of excellence, and over time and with our guidance and support, learn to be outstanding lawyers, trusted advisors and mentors for a new generation of outstanding young lawyers.
If you are thinking about your own attorney development program, keep in mind that each associate in your firm has a unique background, unique skills and unique dreams, but they also share things in common.
Hopefully if you hired the right lawyers, they all want to learn and become better lawyers. They want to work on interesting projects. They want to feel like they matter, know where they stand, and whether they are on track, and they want to feel respected by senior lawyers and peers.
When graduating law students arrive at your door, they know more about the science of law and less about the art of lawyering than they will ever know in their career. So, focus on developing their lawyering skills
When it comes to the future, many of your young lawyers are confused.
- They feel like they are on a trip to an undefined and constantly moving destination (making partner).
- In 2015, many may not even want to become a partner in your firm.
- They are uncertain of the time expected for their arrival, feel they have not been given a map to get there, and no compass to let them know where they are.
- They feel they have no coach or sponsor.
You need your senior lawyers to teach them the art of lawyering and help clear up the confusion. This requires your senior lawyers to get to know them, to understand what makes them unique, and to encourage them to achieve success as they define it.
Your work with your clients is not any different and just as you get good vibes from helping your clients achieve their business objective, you will get the same feeling helping your young lawyers achieve their career goals.
You will have more fun and success helping other people achieve their goals than you will trying to reach your own goals.