Professional Development at Sutherland
For eight consecutive years, Sutherland has ranked among the top 10 law firms in the country for associate training and professional development (Vault Guide to the Top 100 Law Firms). We offer practical work experience, constructive feedback, a career planning program (which has been nationally recognized for best practices in professional development) and a wide variety of training programs, as well as individualized professional development assistance through mentoring and career-related courses.
Through SABLE (Sutherland Asbill & Brennan Legal Education), our comprehensive, nationally ranked in-house training program for our lawyers and clients, we offer more than 100 substantive and skills-based programs year round at the practice group level and firm-wide. Topics include cutting-edge legal developments in various practice areas, ethics and professionalism, depositions, finance and accounting, advanced legal writing, management skills (for senior associates and partners), negotiation and trial advocacy. We also offer a comprehensive business development training curriculum. A fully staffed Professional Development Department, led by a former practicing lawyer, works with the Professional Development Committee, made up of lawyers across all of our offices and practice areas, to design and implement programs.
The majority of the practice group and firm-wide programs are taught by various partners in the firm, while outside consultants are brought in to offer specific sessions on management skills, trial advocacy, negotiation, etc. We encourage all of our lawyers to contribute to SABLE, not only by presenting courses, but by providing ideas for topics, helping senior lawyers prepare for presentations, or acting as co-presenters.
Career Planning Program
Sutherland has a nationally-recognized, structured approach to career planning through career guidelines, individualized career plans and partner plan advisors. The guidelines outline the firm's expectations of associates (including substantive skills for each practice group), and the career plans allow each associate, based on his/her individual interests, to identify specific annual goals and action items for reaching those goals. Associates give their preference for a partner plan advisor, and meet quarterly with that partner to discuss the associate's plan and overall development. Our Career Planning Program, which is administered by our Professional Development Department to ensure regular communication and follow up with the partner/associate pairings, allows for regular feedback and interaction prior to and as part of the mid-year and annual associate review processes.
For a published article on the career planning program, click here.
The Tuttle Courtroom
During the summer of 2006, Sutherland opened its state of the art courtroom, which is used for trial preparation sessions, training and seminars. The courtroom gives Sutherland's lawyers and clients a competitive edge, including the opportunity to refine their advocacy skills in a traditional courtroom setting, and is designed to respond/adapt to the latest trends in courtroom technology.
Sutherland regularly hosts a number of off-site retreats, including events geared toward specific practice groups, diverse attorneys and women attorneys. Agendas at past meetings have included partner-led workshops on practice growth and pathways to partnership, as well as sessions on client development.
Integrating Our New Lawyers
We also offer specific programs to help integrate our new lawyers (both new associates and laterals) to the firm.
New associates attend a two-day orientation program, which offers sessions taught by the firm's partners and professional staff. Topics include the firm's business model, the history of the firm, how to get involved in pro bono and community service, working effectively with your secretary, managing your time, and an overview of client development and marketing. The program also presents a panel of mid- to senior- level associates to discuss tips on how to succeed as a new associate.
New associates are assigned an advisor or "go to" person for the year to help introduce them to members of their practice group and the firm and to otherwise answer any questions about practicing law at Sutherland. The Professional Development Department also conducts a six-month and then an annual "check in" meeting with the new lawyers to address any questions that may surface during the lawyer's first year at the firm.
We also offer a Lateral Transition Program, in which laterals are assigned an advisor or "go-to" person for the year. The advisor (usually a lawyer of similar practice experience) is available to answer questions and offer practical tips about how to successfully integrate into the firm. Also, within the first two months of joining the firm, laterals are assigned a partner mentor in our Career Planning Program.
The Professional Development Department provides assistance in addressing CLE-related questions and issues for the firm's lawyers and clients. Our in-house SABLE courses are regularly awarded CLE credit in most jurisdictions.
For more information on Professional Development at Sutherland, please contact Kristy Weathers, Professional Development Partner.