At Proskauer, our associates are our greatest assets. We care about their development as lawyers and, as such, provide ongoing professional training, both department-specific and related to general skill development. Whether it involves "shadowing" a Proskauer senior lawyer, hearing him or her provide insight on a new aspect of the law, or honing skills with an outside consultant or professor, we invest heavily in our associates to prepare them for careers in the law. The following is a brief overview of our professional development and training programs:
Proskauer Institute brings together new associates from all offices and practice areas to orient them to the practice of law and the firm at the start of their careers. It is a full immersion, multi-day training program presented in the fall of each year to associates who join the firm from law school or a clerkship.
Proskauer Institute begins by addressing the fundamentals for becoming a successful lawyer in a large law firm. Topics such as the following are covered:
What clients and the firm expect from their lawyers;
The role of new associates at the firm;
Diversity and inclusion;
The importance of pro bono;
Managing work flow, calendar and documents; and
Firm structure and practice economics
Proskauer Institute then divides the participants into the practice disciplines in which they will be working, provides some basic training in relevant areas of law, and sets forth a training curriculum for the upcoming year. It also provides several opportunities for new associates to socialize and mingle with each other, partners and other senior lawyers at the firm.
Following Proskauer Institute, new associates are matched up with an Associate Advisor and are integrated into the substantive training programs in their respective departments.
We recently held our bi-annual Mid-Level Associate Retreat for third through sixth year associates Firmwide in the Eleven Times Square conference facilities. Mid-level associates are asked to assume more significant roles on matters and to take on greater responsibilities. This "transition" raises unique issues and requires associates to expand their respective skill sets. We organized the retreat to provide our mid-levels with a forum to discuss these issues and to provide them with some tools to push forward their professional development as Proskauer lawyers.
This year's retreat included an opening reception on Sunday night that provided an opportunity for partners, firm leaders and associates to interact on both business and social levels. The following day, associates participated in an all-day program focused on client service and development. Topics such as the following were covered:
Best Practices for Delivering Exceptional Client Service
Delegation, Supervision and Feedback Skills
Team Leadership and Matter Management
Developing Your Practice from the Inside Out
Persuasive Legal Writing
The group also heard from panels of partners and associates who discussed their own client service and development experiences.
CONTINUING LEGAL EDUCATION
As a "teaching firm", we strongly encourage associates to attend training and continuing legal education courses. We offer all associates an annual training budget to become active in bar association activities and attend outside programs of interest. We also present substantive skills and training programs in-house throughout the year for lawyers at all levels of practice. Proskauer is an accredited CLE provider in New York and California, so our lawyers can obtain necessary CLE credits without leaving the Firm, while also learning valuable information about their areas of practice. In addition, many of our CLE programs and seminars are presented to clients and friends of the Firm.
The firm utilizes Reqwired, a learning management system, to administer and track CLE, attorney admission and other training. By signing on to this system through the firm's Intranet, lawyers are able to monitor their current CLE credit status, view a calendar of upcoming training opportunities and access recently archived programs on-line.'
The following are examples of the types of training programs available:
Corporate Negotiation Workshop: An interactive workshop given to summer associates by a senior corporate partner of the Firm. The summer associates are divided into small sub-groups of buyers and sellers and after some "basic training" are asked to jump in and negotiate an actual acquisition agreement. They are assisted by corporate associates who answer questions and facilitate the negotiations. At the end, all groups report the deals they struck and are ready for real world "wheeling and dealing".
Corporate M&A Real Deal: Designed to give the summer associates who have expressed an interest in corporate work a more in-depth opportunity to gain hands-on transactional experience. This workshop tracks the course of a real deal from the presentation of the facts and financials through the signing of the acquisition agreement. The summer associates learn the major substantive issues of an acquisition agreement, analyze the drafts, negotiate them and draft revisions until both sides reach agreement. Senior and mid-level corporate lawyers work closely with the groups facilitating the review, drafting and negotiation of the document.
Corporate Department's Calendar Corps Program: A unique, participatory program involving corporate lawyers at every level. Each lawyer is asked to select a substantive area in which he or she will participate in creating and presenting the training to the department. The areas include:
Each substantive training group offers a "basic training" course in its topic geared to the inexperienced attorney, a department-wide course for all the corporate lawyers and an advanced training course for the more specialized lawyers.
The Corporate Department also has hosted programs presented by outside experts, including:
Financial Statements Basics - the rudiments for the junior associates
Mergers & Acquisitions - insights into the ongoing and emerging accounting matters which arise in business combinations; and
Advanced Legal Drafting of Contracts - interactive drafting workshops
LABOR & EMPLOYMENT
Labor, Employment and Employee Benefits Research Training Seminar: A basic program offered to all new lawyers in the Labor & Employment Law Department. The program is presented by a partner and several associates. It is comprised of an introductory session discussing available resources and suggested techniques for labor and employment law research. It is followed by a "scavenger hunt" in which associates work collaboratively on research issues and then meet with the presenters to go over their research process and results. A few months later, an informal roundtable is held to discuss commonly encountered pitfalls and mistakes in labor and employment law research, which serves as a refresher for associates on effective research techniques.
Junior Associates: For Labor and Employment associates in their first years of practice, the Department offers a series of "building block" seminars designed to give new associates basic skills and to introduce them to various aspects of the practice of labor and employment law. These programs have included: "Overview of Federal and State Employment Laws", "Writing as an Advocate", "How to Investigate a Case and Prepare an Answer or Position Statement"; "Overview of Document Review and Production"; "The ABC's of Employment Litigation" and "ADA/FMLA Basics".
More Experienced Associates: The Labor & Employment Law Department also offers training seminars geared to associates who have been practicing labor and employment law for more than one or two years. Programs are presented by both partners and associates and have included: "What In-House Clients Want", "Labor, Employment and Benefit Issues in Corporate Transactions", "What Every Labor & Employment Lawyer Needs to Know About the Immigration Laws", "Important Differences in State and Local Employment Laws"; "Preparing for Trial and Use of Experts"; and "HR Counseling and Employee Handbooks".
Additional Programs: The department also offers extensive training to those associates who participate in the department's pro bono arbitration project with the New York City Office of Labor Relations, consisting of both general training on handling arbitrations and the review and preparation of an actual case file. Additionally, the ERISA and Immigration practice groups within the department hold regular meetings at which training and discussion of cutting-edge substantive issues related to those practices is conducted. The Labor groups in Newark and Los Angeles also hold learning lunch programs. In conjunction with the Litigation & Dispute Resolution Department, the Labor & Employment Law Department has co-sponsored several training programs for mid-level and senior associates including: a depositions skills workshop, presented by Professor Henry Hecht of the University of California at Berkeley; a trial advocacy workshop, presented by Peter Murray, a trial lawyer and Adjunct Professor at Harvard University; an effective management seminar focusing on delegation, supervision and feedback skills, presented by an outside consulting firm; and a legal writing workshop.
LITIGATION & DISPUTE RESOLUTION
LDR Nuts & Bolts: The Litigation & Dispute Resolution Department's training program for first and second year associates covers the basics of the practice and presents informal monthly breakfast lectures, hosted by either a senior associate, senior counsel or partner. Topics have included: "Handling Court Appearances"; "Writing a Proskauer Memo"; "Pleadings, Discovery and Document Review"; "Witness Preparation"; and "Oral Advocacy". Programs are also presented by the Department's various practice groups, and have included: "Basics of Patent Law"; "Litigating Non-Compete and Trade Secret Cases"; "Nuts & Bolts of Copyright"; and "Basics of Trademark Law and Insurance 101".
Workshops: In conjunction with the Labor Department, we sponsor several training programs for associates including a depositions skills workshop, presented by Professor Henry Hecht of the University of California at Berkeley, a trial advocacy workshop, presented by Peter Murray, a trial lawyer and Adjunct Professor at Harvard University, and an evidence workshop, taught by Professor David Sonenshein from Temple University.
Teaching Law Firm Model: More generally, the department has adopted a model in which each case is considered to be a learning and training experience for junior associates. The goal of our training is to develop litigators who are able to "take charge" of a matter and adopt it as their own.
Real Estate lawyers at Proskauer gain experience and learn to practice real estate law by working on a daily basis with senior lawyers on a broad range of transactions. We seek to expose our junior lawyers to all aspects of our practice, so that a seasoned Proskauer real estate lawyer has represented landlords and tenants, lenders and borrowers, and investors and developers. A junior real estate lawyer's training stems primarily from the lawyers' participation in various transactions with virtually all of the senior lawyers in the department.
Breakfast Seminar Series: Senior lawyers introduce basic concepts of the practice to junior lawyers in monthly breakfast meetings. We backstop the process of "learning by doing" by providing an informal setting to address basic questions and seek feedback. The topics covered have included: "Basic Elements of Contracts to Buy and Sell Real Estate"; "Title Insurance and Survey Issues"; "Commercial Leasing Transactions"; "Negotiating and Documenting Residential Transactions"; and "Debt and Equity Financing Transactions".
Monthly "State of the Market" Transactions: All of the lawyers in the department meet once a month to discuss some of the major transactions that are being handled and to discuss generally the state of the New York real estate market. Our program usually includes a discussion led by a speaker from the Firm or the outside real estate industry addressing a current topic.
Through our Associate Shadowing Program, Proskauer associates, as part of their professional obligations, are given assignments to observe experienced lawyers at work. These opportunities, though stressed at the new and summer associate stages, are available throughout our associates' careers at the firm to help them gain exposure to and experience in all elements of client matters. On a typical day, shadowing may include anything from attending a meeting with a client and other lawyers at Proskauer, to participating in negotiations with opposing counsel on a matter, to attending a trial or deposition or observing the closing of a transaction. In addition, we encourage partners to "reverse shadow", in order to offer oversight, guidance and feedback on smaller projects and matters where partner billing is not justified.
Under our Mentoring Program, associates second year and above are asked to select a partner or senior counsel to serve as their mentors. To facilitate this relationship, the Firm provides an annual stipend to mentors, conducts mentoring training, and organizes periodic events such as Take Your Mentor to Lunch Month. The Professional Resources Department actively monitors the relationships and serves as a bridge between mentors and mentees to encourage activity. As noted above, new associates are matched with Associate Advisors for the first year and then are asked to select a partner or senior counsel mentor after they have had a chance to develop informal mentoring relationships at the firm.
In conjunction with our firm-wide evaluations system, we periodically meet with partners and senior counsel to provide instruction and guidance on how better to deliver formal evaluations and ongoing feedback to associates at all levels.