Professional Development and Training at Taft
Chief Attorney Development Officer
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 by attending developmental opportunities and training hosted internally and outside the firm.
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 serve our clients at the highest possible level.
Keystone specifically targets summer associates’ writing skills during their time as a summer associate. Catalyst provides extensive learning opportunities in writing, advocacy and presentation skills, business development, foundations of attorney well-being, law firm economics, and more during associates’ first full year at Taft. Pathway, designed for associates in their second year of practice and beyond, provides in-depth focus on practice-specific skills, next-level writing and presentation competencies, marketing and business development, teamwork and delegation, and more. Additionally, associates receive ongoing mentoring and feedback from partners in their practice groups to help build the skills they need to thrive in the practice and exceed our clients’ expectations.
“Our associates’ success is a top priority at Taft,” shares Chief Attorney Development Officer, Kendra Brodin. “Professional development opportunities begin on an associate’s first day at Taft—from being provided with an internal network of attorneys who are go-to resources to formal learning opportunities with the best in-house lawyers and experts in the industry. Both as a firm and as your colleagues, Taft is deeply invested in the growth and success of its attorneys.”
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 expected to show their own investment in 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 is a part of our associates’ growth and development path every step of the way.
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 associates with exceptional writing skills. The Keystone program gives summer associates the tools for a successful summer experience and a strong legal writing foundation.
“Keystone helped me develop my legal writing skills by providing me with valuable tips, resources, and feedback that I will continue to use throughout my legal career,” states Keystone participant and current associate, Maria Castro. “It helped me transition from the type of writing required in law school to the type of writing required in legal practice. Receiving detailed feedback about my writing skills from a partner helped me set clear expectations, made me feel more confident about my ability to meet those expectations, and demonstrated to me that Taft is committed to my growth as a legal professional.”
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 kicks off each year’s new associate class 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; 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, is also gives new associates the chance to really 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.
“Catalyst helped me grow from a law school graduate into a professional, polished new attorney,” shares Catalyst program graduate and current associate, Devin Spencer. “The program covered topics that new lawyers are sometimes scared to ask about, including the practical topics that come up daily as a new associate—from email etiquette to interacting with clients, paralegals, and staff. Catalyst teaches the things you don't learn in law school, but that are so important to being a successful lawyer.”
ACTIVATE | Catalyst Newsletter. Catalyst participants receive a monthly communication, ACTIVATE, throughout their first year. The newsletter highlights firm programming and updates, as well as tips, articles, and resources specifically geared to help Catalyst participants make the most of their first year at Taft.
Associate Development Program | Pathway
Taft continues associate development well beyond the first year. For second- through eighth-year associates, Taft offers the Pathway learning program. Pathway builds on what associates learned in Catalyst and provides continued developmental opportunities on topics such as:
- Business development.
- The inner workings of the law firm.
- 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 each practice group’s leadership, the attorney development team ensures that each associate in every group receive the learning and growth opportunities they need and develop the practice and professional skills they need on their path to partnership.
UPLEVEL | Associate Newsletter
UPLEVEL is a weekly newsletter written specifically for Taft associates at all levels. Through UPLEVEL, associates receive suggested articles and resources to help aid in their professional and practice development as attorneys at Taft. The newsletter includes announcements about upcoming programming, relevant and interesting CLE courses offered through PLI, newly-released training videos available in Taft’s Associate Learning Portal, reminders about how to access all of the firm’s associate development tools, and much more.
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 mentoring team that includes a partner and an associate. The mentoring team becomes the associate's go-to resource for ongoing career support and answering questions related to the legal industry, client matters, Taft's culture and practices, and anything else the associate needs. After the first year, associates can choose new partner mentors annually to best suit their needs and build relationships throughout the firm. Additional mentoring opportunities are also available through other initiatives of the firm.
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 have a special learning path within the Associate Learning Portal customized to the lateral experience and what laterals need to know upon joining the firm. Laterals also enjoy the same level of mentoring as all other associates so they can get up-and-running at Taft quickly and smoothly.
Online, CLE training, and Practice Development. 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. Additionally, associates are encouraged to attend trainings offered through local organizations, such as bar associations. Finally, practice groups host developmental opportunities throughout the year, including lunch hour programs and in-depth learning opportunities in a variety of practice areas.
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 as well as practice-specific learning opportunities. Each associate’s homepage in the Portal is personalized for the associate and their practice area. From their homepage, associates can search firm and PLI courses, view a calendar of upcoming courses, access the milestones and competencies they need at each level of experience, and more. This interactive learning tool is at the heart of Taft’s Catalyst and Pathway development programs.
Coaching Hours. Kendra Brodin, Chief Attorney Development Officer, offers one-on-one coaching hours each week for associates. In coaching sessions, associates bring a challenge they are facing and problem-solve possible solutions. By the end of the session, associates have a clear sense of next steps to improve their situation.
Associate Advisory Group (AAG). The Associate Advisory Group is comprised of two associate representatives from each Taft 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. The AAG also organizes social events for associates as well as plays an important role in connecting with summer associates and new associates to Taft.