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ANDERSON: One of the things we do is we try to involve the associates in firm management. It makes them feel like they have some ownership in the firm and a voice in the firm. We put them on all the active committees so they participate regularly and fully.
CLYDE: We make a very concerted effort to bring our young lawyers into contact early with a client so they start developing that relationship. As the older lawyers transition out, the client doesn’t see a need to leave. And then young lawyers can see a future there because the clients are developing that relationship and will stay with them as the older, more experienced lawyers leave.
Where we’ve lost a few associates in the last couple of years, it’s either been what they perceived to be a better job fit for them or they’ve gone in-house with clients where they’ve developed that rapport. In doing that, we have maintained very good relationships and that enhances our relationship with that client. So rather than losing an associate, we’ve ended up gaining an ally with a client.
POS: One thing we’ve focused on in recent years is getting our associates involved in community activities and hoping they take on leadership roles in the community. We support them financially at the firm in their efforts to do that.
That dovetails with one of the big changes I’ve seen since my days as an associate. Twenty-five years ago, associates came in, there were institutional clients, and we didn’t have to worry about business development. We were there to just do the work that was there. Today’s paradigm is that associates need to think about business development early on, and getting involved in the community is one way to begin to accomplish that. We do training with our associates right from their summer program through their associate years in business development. So that’s been a big change.
The other thing we’ve done in the last five to 10 years is create alternative compensation programs so that associates can take some time off and deal with their family issues. We had this compensation scheme in place, but it was never really utilized early on. Now it’s increasingly used. Associates are opting for alternative compensation programs so they can better balance their lifestyle.
HARMAN: One observation I’ve made is that these young associates come into the practice of law with a different array of experiences than I think many of us did. They’ve done things. They’ve been places. They’ve seen things. They’ve done a lot more than I did when I got my first job practicing law. And with that comes a different perspective—they’re in a different box and they have different interests, different expectations. It’s unrealistic for us to put them in the same box that we came in.
FILLMORE: Our hiring model is not to hire lawyers out of law school. It’s tough for these kids. Because our model is to look for three- or four-year associates that have been trained by major law firms in urban areas who want to come home to Utah for lifestyle reasons. And we’re quite a contrast to the sweat shops they may have been working for. That’s a real opportunity for us here in Utah, to take really quality associates who have been well trained outside the state but want to come home for a different lifestyle.
CATAXINOS: I’ve been conducting associate evaluations now for close to 15 years, and I’ve seen quite a dramatic shift since I started doing it. You used to see associates that were more driven by professional accolades and money, which is more inline with the Baby Boomer mentality, and now you’re just not seeing that at all. All they care about is being mentored correctly, what type of professional experiences they get and how much contact they receive.
That’s really shifted the way that firms are managed. It’s affected the partnership tracks, what type of things do you evaluate, as opposed to straight billable hours and the like. And also they want a lot more participation in firm management. So we start doing that early on in their careers.
LORIMER: It’s clear that we do have a paradigm shift in younger lawyers. There’s no question about it. One of the things I struggle with is they seem to want part of the paradigm shift, but not the other part. They want the money, but they want the lifestyle, too. At the end of the day, you have to have a budget for them. And that budget is made up of the lawyer’s time and time converted to money.
How many people have adopted alternative compensation schemes so that you can accommodate the needs and wants of the young lawyers, but still be fiscally sound?
GAYLORD: Our firm does a pretty good job, particularly here in the Salt Lake City location, of allowing associates and even partners to work on a part-time basis. We have a partner in our office that works 80 percent as opposed to 100 percent. The compensation is adjusted accordingly based upon the hourly rate, her billing hours rate.