Firm programs support ongoing learning and skill development in the following areas:
- Legal Skills
- Client Service Skills
- Leadership, Management and Ownership Skills
- Marketing and Selling Skills
- Civic and Professional Contribution Skills
These skills will be developed and enhanced through four primary modalities described more fully below -- Mentoring, Formal Education & Training, Work Assignments, and Feedback.
Historically, mentoring has occurred on an informal basis in each of the firm's offices. Our continuing growth is, in part, the impetus behind our current development of a formal mentoring program. Expanding size and increased client demands make informal mentoring insufficient to provide the support and guidance we believe all attorneys desire and need to become outstanding legal practitioners.
Currently, all new associates are paired with a mid-level or senior associate for their first six months to assist in the transition from law school to law practice.
Our firm continues to explore less traditional forms of mentoring and, in fact, uses group mentoring to support the professional development of its Louisville litigation associates. Litigation training teams meet twice monthly to discuss current issues or challenges with ongoing matters and share recent learning experiences. The teams also provide a forum for asking questions about firm policies and administrative matters. Each training team drives its own meeting agenda to serve the needs of its members.
Formal training begins with the Fall Associate Orientation Program. All fall associates are brought to one location for the orientation to ensure everyone receives the same initial training and information. Orientation for new associates includes a full three days of programming. Click here for a sample of the most recent orientation agenda.
Additional training currently occurs in teams or through service groups. Everyone benefits when new associates receive the best possible legal and business training. That's why the firm evaluates and educates its new lawyers through several formal programs intended to chart and promote professional and personal growth and to lay the foundation for a productive and fulfilling career.
Most associates participate in weekly, bi-weekly or monthly service group programs focusing on topics of interest that pertain to their substantive area of law. The litigation department is one example of how associate training works at Stites & Harbison. Litigation associates in Louisville and Lexington participate in informal weekly / bi-weekly litigation luncheons where attorneys lead discussions on anything from the latest Supreme Court decision to the latest on legal privacy issues. The Nashville and Atlanta offices have also invested in litigation training sessions designed to provide guidance about common litigation challenges that arise throughout the litigation process.
Recently, the Business & Corporate Services group began hosting formal training programs for junior and mid-level transactional attorneys. Topics have included third-party opinions, drafting commercial documents, choosing a form of operating agreement, shareholder agreements, and the basics of forming LLCs. Similarly, the Atlanta real estate associates and paralegals have received detailed training as they “walk through” the variety of real estate documents encountered during various real estate transactions.
Below is a list of programs recently conducted throughout the firm:
- Expert Fees As "Costs"
- Jury Verdict Research
- Pre- and Post- Judgment Interest
- Apportionment and Indemnity
- An Overview of Copyright Law
- Electronic Discovery -- "Counsel's Obligation to Preserve Electronic Evidence"
- Antitrust 101
- Special Purpose Entities
- Cross Examining Expert Witnesses: Twenty Steps to Success
- Setting SMART Goals
- Objections and Trial Motions
- Where Do Clients Come From and Where Do They Go: The Myths of Client Development -- A Case Study of 12 Clients
- TROs and Injunctions
- The Secrets of Effective Legal Writing
Associates are encouraged to track their progress through a self-directed, formal training schedule or task/skill list. The schedule establishes recommended time frames for the accomplishment of certain professional goals and tasks within the associate's area of practice. By using this training schedule and its progress benchmarks as a framework, each associate and his or her Service Group Leader can develop a plan to expand the associate's training and professional experience.
The comprehensive professional development program will include curricula designed and targeted to an attorney's level of experience and practice area.
Annual associate evaluations are conducted in the fall of each year. The Management Committee and Service Group Leaders meet to discuss the progress of each associate. From this, they determine the appropriate compensation for the coming year and the bonuses for the current year.
The Service Group Leaders will then conduct in-person reviews with their service group members to discuss the results of the evaluations and the decisions of the Management Committee regarding compensation.
All associates are placed in a service group when they begin work at the firm. Attorneys may belong to more than one service group but everyone has a primary "home room" or affiliation. Currently, work assignments and workflow issues are handled at the individual service group level. Associates are encouraged to work with their Service Group Leaders to create Professional Development Plans and seek work that will help them achieve their professional goals.