Getting to be a law firm associate is no joke. To have beaten the industry odds and get a job as an associate you have to have excelled at law school (preceded by excellence at the undergraduate level) and made it through the bar exam. One of the biggest challenges for law firm management today is to make sure they are maximizing the productivity of these individuals and placing them in a position to continue excelling. A key to succeeding on the job is on-the-job training; in fact this might be one of the most unique aspects of being a law firm associate, as opposed to having a job in another industry. Looking across law firms of various sizes, there are three common threads that emerge which lead to maximum associate success.
Evolve Your Training Protocol
The historical practice of “sit with Sarah and see how she does it” is failing associates all over the country. It’s decentralized and isn’t systematic. One of the things we hear most when we talk with associates is their hope and need for better training. In other industries, superior results have been produced by equipping junior employees with tools that allow them to see “the bigger picture.” Giving junior employees a better vantage point into how what they are doing fits into the broader demands of the job is a great way to ramp up associates and get them through the difficult transition of moving from law school to law firm. It’s time we throw associates into the deep end with a life jacket.
It’s critical to develop a culture where it’s okay to ask questions. Often the first step to developing this type of culture is for junior employees to have confidence that the question they are asking “is not a stupid question.” We have found when talking with associates that when they are able to get past the questions they may feel are stupid, they are more open in talking to senior staff and ultimately accelerating the learning curve and performance trajectory. In the absence of questions and coaching, the environment becomes stressful for all employees and the ultimate loser in this situation is the firm.
Technology in the hands of a well-trained employee makes a good associate great, and a great associate a superstar. There are many great technologies that firms can adopt, and by developing a culture where attorneys are aware of these tools and can have a voice in adopting these tools, firms will see a substantial gain in associate productivity.
Advancing your firm’s training, culture and tools requires active effort--it won’t happen on its own. In a competitive environment, the incentives to innovate are strong, and more firms are catching on. Set your litigation team up withRavel trial access to see how the right tools can help your litigation associates become more productive.
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