We believe that consistency in recruiting and professional development efforts is very important.
We created an Associate Advancement & Recruiting Committee (AARC), which is co-chaired by two partners who have spent several years working in the recruiting, professional development and evaluation processes related to associates. In addition, the committee consists of a partner from each office and the firm's Chief Recruiting Officer. The committee is charged with hiring and retaining attorneys who will be successful at Taft on a long-term basis. The members not only conduct on campus and in house interviews, but also play a major role in the firm's summer program. In addition, these partners are responsible for overseeing the progression and evaluation of associates, which is done through open lines of communication and transparency about what is needed to be a successful attorney at Taft.
The firm also has an Associate Advisory Group, which includes two associates from each office and the Chief Recruiting Officer. The group meets periodically to discuss issues, concerns and areas for improvement, and it works closely with the AARC.
Taft is committed to the professional development of its attorneys and hopes to promote the best interests of the firm and its employees by: (1) coordinating efforts to integrate new attorneys into the firm, (2) providing the necessary tools to assist attorneys in the development of their practices, and (3) creating an atmosphere in which people can develop good relationships with others in the firm. We strive to accomplish these three goals by offering the following programs:
- Catalyst. Our program for first-year lawyers helps you "hit the ground running," both as practicing attorneys and as part of Taft. Highlights of the program include training on legal writing, public speaking, business development, professional responsibility, firm resources, client relations and practice group-specific information.
- Mentoring. New associates are assigned a mentoring team that includes a partner and an associate. When possible, the associate mentor is from the attorney's practice area. We realize that needs often change as an associate progresses, so associates have the opportunity to choose a new partner mentor on an annual basis. While associates may need a mentor to teach the basics of the practice as a first or second-year attorney, they may need a partner to assist in business development efforts as they become more experienced.
- Pathfinder. Our program for second- through fourth-year attorneys includes continued training on business development, professional responsibility and practice group-based skills. In addition, associates complete online courses on topics specific to their practice through Practising Law Institute, the firm's online CLE provider. We also occasionally offer interactive presentations for all associates.
- Evaluation. Associates are formally evaluated on an annual basis but receive informal feedback on a regular basis while working closely with more experienced attorneys. Evaluations are completed by the people with whom an associate works, and the criteria on which an associate is evaluated changes as the associate progresses.
Each associate is given milestones specific to the practice area. These milestones provide a roadmap of how the associate should progress.
- Integration. We encourage our attorneys to interact with one another, as well as with staff members. We believe that working together as a team is the best way to serve our clients. The firm periodically hosts breakfasts, lunches and events to encourage interaction.
Though our atmosphere is friendly and relaxed, we believe in working hard and meeting the needs of our clients. Because we believe that it takes more than billable hours to be successful, we encourage our attorneys to be involved in the firm and in the community.
At Taft, we are focused on ensuring that all our attorneys are equipped with the tools to become the best they can be, which in turn helps ensure that we continue to be among the strongest, most progressive, most effective law firms in the region.