Professional Development and Training at Taft

Laura Friedman
Senior Director of Professional Development

Alison Plavin
Director of Associate Advancement

Chasity Thompson Osborn
Director of Attorney Learning and Development

Jim Tomaszewski
Director of Recruiting and Associate Advancement

Mackenzie Sauceman
Manager of Legal Recruiting & Professional Development

Taft is Committed to Associate Growth and Development

At Taft, we believe that an investment in our associates’ development is an investment in Taft’s future. Through the programming and learning opportunities we offer, our associates gain the tools they need to achieve their career goals, build superior professional and legal skills, and deliver outstanding value to our clients.

Taft’s approach to associate development is centered on the belief that the best associate development includes three foundational components:

  • On-the-job, hands-on, experiential learning.
  • Candid and constructive feedback and mentoring from experienced attorneys.
  • Self-directed learning through educational programs and other developmental opportunities.

Taft associates progress through three distinct developmental programs as they reach higher levels of experience: Keystone, Catalyst, and Pathway. Each program is tailored to help our associates reach career milestones, equip them with the skills they need to succeed as practicing attorneys, and provide resources to serve our clients at the highest possible level.

As Taft invests in our associates, we expect our associates to demonstrate initiative and take advantage of the development and learning tools at their disposal. Taft provides significant opportunities and support for our associates as they develop their practice and professional skills, and our associates are encouraged to show their own investment in and ownership of their career and professional development. Our associates are never alone as they develop the competencies they need to thrive at our firm and in the legal profession. Taft provides opportunities to help our associates grow and develop every step of the way.

Taft is also a signatory to the American Bar Association Well-Being Pledge. The seven-point pledge is designed to support mental health and overall well-being – for Taft’s attorneys and staff, in addition to the legal profession as a whole – through education, firm policies, and intentional workplace culture.

Law students and recent graduates seeking a collaborative firm, supportive team, and investment in their growth can visit our Careers page to learn more about Taft’s culture and current openings.

Summer Associate Writing Program | Keystone

Legal writing is a critical skill for any successful attorney. That’s why all Taft summer associates participate in Keystone, Taft’s intensive summer writing program. Over the course of the summer, participants complete writing assignments that allow them to both showcase their writing skills and identify areas for growth. Every assignment is reviewed by a partner in the firm who provides in-depth feedback and offers strategies for improvement.  Summer associates also have the support and guidance of summer writing program mentors, a select group of Taft attorneys with exceptional writing skills. The Keystone program gives summer associates the tools for a successful summer experience and a strong legal writing foundation.

First-Year Associate Development Program | Catalyst

The shift from law student to practicing lawyer can be challenging. To ensure a smooth transition, first-year associates participate in Catalyst, Taft’s yearlong new associate program. Catalyst begins with a comprehensive overview of the firm and what it takes to thrive as an associate at Taft.

Over the course of the year, Catalyst sessions cover topics critical to associates’ success, including: legal writing; oral advocacy and presentation skills; law firm economics; communication; business development and marketing; practice group-specific skills; working with support staff and others; time and project management; diversity and inclusion; and strategies for attorney well-being.

Not only does Catalyst provide the skills and development that new associates need to succeed in their first year at Taft and beyond, but it also gives new associates the chance to get to know one another and build lasting professional relationships with their new colleagues. By the end of Catalyst, new associates have the skills they need to launch successful careers at Taft and provide the top-notch service and work product our clients deserve and expect.

Associate Development Program | Pathway

Taft continues associate development well beyond the first year with the Pathway learning program. Pathway builds on what associates learned in Catalyst and provides continued developmental opportunities on topics such as:

  • Business development
  • Law firm operations and citizenship
  • In-person and online presentation skills
  • Practice-specific skills
  • Document, email, and case management
  • Delegation and teamwork
  • The importance of pro bono
  • The path to partnership
  • Diversity and inclusion

Through regular meetings with associates, practice group leaders, and firm management, the Professional Development team ensures that each associate gets learning and growth opportunities to develop the necessary practice and professional skills on their path to partnership.

Taft is invested in our associates’ professional development and committed to providing them with the tools and resources to succeed throughout their careers:

Mentoring Program. Taft offers a formal mentoring program to all associates. Each new associate is matched with a partner and associate. That mentoring team becomes the associate’s go-to resource for ongoing career support and questions. As associates continue in their careers, they can choose new mentors to best suit their needs and build relationships throughout the firm. Additional mentoring opportunities are also available through other firm initiatives.

Lateral Integration. Taft attracts top associates from other firms who are looking to join Taft’s strong platform and enjoy the work culture and career opportunities Taft offers. Laterals work with the PD team to develop a customized experience to assist laterals in getting better acclimated to the firm and continuing their development. Additionally, laterals participate in the Lateral Engagement and Advancement Program (LEAP), a quarterly series designed to help new lateral attorneys connect and better integrate into Taft. This program is an opportunity to learn more about the firm and create community among our lateral hires. Laterals also enjoy the same level of mentoring as all other associates so they can get up-and-running at Taft quickly and smoothly.

Practice Development and Hybrid CLE training. The Professional Development team works with practice groups to host developmental opportunities throughout the year, including lunch hour programs and in-depth learning opportunities in a variety of practice areas Additionally, associates are encouraged to attend trainings offered through local organizations, such as bar associations. Finally, the Practising Law Institute (PLI) is the firm’s preferred online CLE provider. Through PLI, all attorneys have access to thousands of online courses for ongoing professional development.

Associate Learning Portal. Taft’s Associate Learning Portal (the “Portal”) is associates’ “one-stop shop” for all things associate and professional development. Customized and created for Taft associates, the Portal is Taft’s online learning platform where associates can access firm-created trainings for general professional development and practice-specific learning opportunities.

Coaching Support. The Professional Development team members serve as a personal resource to our associates. They are trained to provide support in creating development plans and serve as a coach to help associates navigate their careers. Each market has a designated professional development team member available to support associates.

Associate Advisory Group (AAG). The Associate Advisory Group is led by the Professional Development Team and is comprised of two associate representatives from each office. The AAG meets regularly to discuss firm policies and practices that affect associates, as well as to bring associate perspectives to Taft’s leadership. Also, the AAG organizes social events for associates and plays an important role in connecting with summer associates and new Taft associates.