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Keeping associates on track: a better way to train and retain young lawyers

Any attorney could tell you a story of their growth from young associate to experienced practice lead or partner. However, today’s associates need not feel the same burdens as their predecessors. Most associates accept they will be overwhelmed early on, but that timeframe can be shortened.

There are knowledge tools available to law firms that are under-utilized when training young attorneys. These tools establish a starting point for any problem an associate may have. They assist inexperienced attorneys by giving them practical resources and a starting point to jumpstart their confidence to work independently. This starts with introducing basic information such as gold-standard precedents, checklists, toolkits and practice notes that are annotated by experts, providing the concrete guidance and in-depth information associates need. These solutions will help young attorneys be more productive, efficient, and knowledgeable, and can accelerate any associate’s track toward becoming a partner.

Partners know that they must zero in on those associates who have the skills and commitment to ascend to leadership. Finding those able to do it at an accelerated pace is no easy task. But with the right legal technology, law firms will experience two primary benefits that come from empowering associates to provide immediate value.

Nurture developing lawyers without wasting time

Facilitating the rapid growth of associates to make them independent and profitable is essential to an advanced law firm.

With modern tools, you will be able to keep them from getting lost in the endless sea of legal information. These abilities will enable your new associate to be capable and confident as soon as they walk in the door. Instead of counting on more experienced coworkers to answer their entry-level questions, causing inefficiency for both attorneys, they can hit the ground running.

Giving your associates the tools to succeed opens time for you and your colleagues.

Hold on to your investment

In addition to freeing up time for everyone around the firm, modern tools assist in increasing associate retention.

The cost to train new associates is believed to be between $200,000 and $400,000 per attorney – a massive investment for any small or mid-sized firm. Despite law firms employing better benefits and increasing pay by 8 percent, associate turnover increased 28 percent from 2016 to 2017. Simply put, producing a strong base of effective associates is done by supporting new attorneys with learning opportunities and the correct modern tools.

The relationship between law firms and their employees is changing. Young attorneys are no longer thought of as laborers in which upper-level managers can pile unwanted work onto without assistance or reward. To keep young associates around, firms must be willing to invest in tools and policies that support their work-life balance and keep them from burning out before they have a chance at partnership.

Moving forward

Investing in inexperienced associates is a smart way to avoid the sad statistics of associate turnover, some claiming large law firms lose $25 million per year. The firms that employ these tools see the real progress that their associates are making in the form of productivity, devotion, and added value.

Moving forward requires innovation in the way new talent is trained and managed. Developing a plan for this transformation will enable associate independence and show top talent that you are committed to their continued development as legal professionals, strengthening your potential to keep them and build business.

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