Tips for Young Attorney Development and Retention in Your Law Firm

CSI - Courtroom Sciences Inc.

Competition for good employees is on the rise. Developing and retaining new employees has become increasingly complex, not just in the practice of law but for corporations across almost every industry. The differences in workplace values, perceptions, and preferences between generations have made young attorney development even more challenging. This highlights the need for law firms to find better ways to improve retention and provide support to help young attorneys grow and advance.

How can I support first-year associate retention?

Young attorney development and retention can be improved through effective communication. Meeting regularly with young attorneys to offer feedback, answer questions, and discuss career development can help drive loyalty and give associates the tools they need to perform well and motivation to stay with your firm. 

Developing Relationships is Key

Building a book of business is often a goal for young attorneys. However, as a young lawyer, when your title is associate, trying to reach out and ask people to send you cases can be challenging. Young attorneys simply haven’t tried as many cases, done as many depositions, attended as many mediations, or built as many connections. 

Instead of only focusing on building a book of business, it’s important to help young attorneys learn how to develop relationships. Then over time, those turn into real trust. Ultimately, when they know you, like you, and trust you, those relationships can turn into long-term client relationships and ongoing friendships. 

There are many ways that young attorneys can network and build relationships, including using networking tools such as LinkedIn, writing articles for publications, or getting involved with local bar associations and conferences. Although building relationships and developing a book of business are not billable activities and require additional effort, young attorneys may eventually realize that the journey of establishing connections and cultivating relationships is more valuable than the book of business itself. If anything, the relationships and friendships you build with people along the way are far more fulfilling than any book, whether successful or not.

Seek Mentorship Internally and Externally

Having a group around you, having mentors, peers, or colleagues that will share with you and tell you what is or is not working for them, can be an excellent asset for a young attorney. Finding the right group of people can allow you to bounce ideas off of them and garner trusted feedback. 

Often, young associates or lawyers will look internally in their own firm for mentorship, and there is often a wonderful opportunity there. There are likely partners that have tried many cases, are very successful, have served in prominent leadership roles, and have done many remarkable things. However, younger lawyers must know they can reach out externally as well as internally. 

External mentorships may be a fantastic opportunity to learn how other firms structure things and their workflows. Additionally, there can be genuine camaraderie and opportunities for sharing amongst the defense bar, which could serve as another kind of mentorship. 

Effective Communication is Imperative For Retention

When you diligently work to find and identify good talent, it can be frustrating to know that they will likely be contacted about other opportunities. Finding ways to retain these quality employees is a priority for many law firms, and building relationships is one of the fundamental ways to improve retention. A law firm is a team, with everyone playing a different position, such as managing partners, attorneys, paralegals, associates, and legal assistants. Yet, these positions or roles are equally important in the organization's overall function. 

Along with relationship building is the ability to communicate effectively. Young lawyers have a reputation for sometimes being unable to take constructive criticism well. However, providing constructive and instructive feedback can be an enormous component of development. Relationship building is essential for delivering feedback and constructive criticism to a young lawyer. Let new lawyers who join the firm know they will hear good and bad feedback from their superiors. But when it’s tough news, together, you will handle it, learn from it, and move forward. 

In this way, the relationship feels more supportive, and the young lawyer can appreciate what’s going on with the understanding that you are there for them, that you support them, and that you are only giving them feedback for their benefit and their future progress. Also, keeping the door to communication open both ways, where these young lawyers feel they can come in and ask case-related, practice-related, or other types of questions. Ultimately, the goal is to develop and cultivate these young lawyers to the point people will trust them and send them cases, which benefits everyone. 

At Courtroom Sciences, we help legal teams achieve superior litigation outcomes with proven research and expert support. Speak with one of our experts to get started.

Key Takeaways

●  Young attorney development and retention can be improved through effective communication.

●  Investing time in developing relationships is key to building long-term client relationships.

●  Both internal and external mentors who will share with you and provide feedback can be a great asset for a young attorney.

●  At Courtroom Sciences, we help legal teams achieve superior litigation outcomes with proven research and expert support.  

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