I was interviewed recently using Google + Chat. That was a first for me. I was asked why I left a lucrative and enjoyable law practice to work full time coaching, teaching and helping younger lawyers. The interviewer told me his readers would find that crazy on my part. I told him my former partners could not understand why I would make the change. One partner said I was “retiring.” Finally, I told him I loved working with lawyers striving to get better and striving to build a preeminent law firm.

Is your law firm striving to be a preeminent firm? If so, you must create a preeminent attorney development program. But, that is challenging. Are your partners and associates behind your attorney development program, or do the partners undermine it and associates blow it off? Are your firm leaders promoting attorney development or putting it on the back burner?

As a firm leader if you want to increase the odds of getting the lawyers in your firm behind your Attorney Development program, you must take the lead. You should articulate:

  • The purpose of the attorney development program is,
  • What the firm is trying to accomplish, and
  • What is expected of your lawyers.

Here are my ideas to get you started. This is what I hoped to be the purpose, vision and core values of the attorney development program at my old firm.

Our Firm Attorney Development Program

Purpose

The purpose of our 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.

Vision

Our firm seeks to have an Attorney Development program recognized as preeminent by our clients, our lawyers and law students.

Core Values

  • 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.
  • We will endeavor to provide our young lawyers consistent, real and specific direction on career advancement.
  • CLE, and other learning opportunities, 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. Over time and with our guidance and support, our young lawyers will learn to be outstanding lawyers, trusted advisors and mentors for a new generation of outstanding young lawyers.
  • Each associate in our firm has a unique background, unique skills and unique dreams, but they also share things in common. They all want to learn and become better lawyers. They want to perform interesting work. 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.

I have to be honest with you. I did not have enough support from our firm leaders to make my purpose, vision and core values a reality in my firm. Do you have the support in your firm?

You will have more fun and success helping other people achieve their goals than you will trying to reach your own goals.Dale Carnegie