We have resisted the trend among major law firms to require immediate specialization by new associates. Instead, first-year associates initially work in several departments with various senior attorneys, thus enabling early, direct involvement with clients, opposing counsel and lawyers from other firms. As they learn and grow, our new associates are given increasing responsibility, balanced with training and supervision.
Associates generally elect to concentrate in a practice area at the end of their first year. However, first-year associates who have a particular interest in our Tax Group or Trusts & Estates Group typically specialize in these departments earlier than other associates.
Upon arrival at S&W, first-year associates spend one to two weeks in our comprehensive First Year Academy, an intensive training experience designed to help first years quickly develop the practical skills required for success from one’s first year throughout one’s entire career. From the nuts and bolts of preparing lease summaries to knowing at what point in a business meal to get down to business to leveraging S&W’s litigation support technology, first years master the basics quickly and emerge poised for success. Upon completion of First Year Academy, first years are ready not only to take on assignments, but also to participate in department meetings, in S&W substantive and skills training classes and in external continuing legal education programming.
Below is a sampling of courses taught in the First Year Academy and what our first year associates are saying about them:
On Anatomy of a Commercial Real Estate Transaction taught by Eric Lemont:
“This was one of my favorite trainings thus far. Eric was extremely knowledgeable about the topic and moved at the perfect pace.”
On Fundamentals of Legal Writing: Drafting and Understanding Agreements taught by Amy Zuccarello:
“[The seminar] covered a topic that is not a fixture in most law schools’ curricula. As associates, we will need to know transactional drafting so having some exposure and understanding is key.”
“Kevin and Nick [are] both clearly experts in mastering discovery strategies, and it was great to hear from them about their own experiences with particular cases and judges.”
On Bankruptcy Basics taught by Jeanne Darcey:
“Jeanne did a wonderful job turning what could be a very complicated subject into something easy to understand even for those without a prior bankruptcy background.”
“Choice of entity is such an important concept for our general knowledge base, so it was great to have an overview before we start projects. [T]he material presented was the perfect amount to refresh concepts learned in law school from a very practical angle.”
On Intro to Public Securities taught by Jeffrey Morlend:
“It was very useful to get an overview of how to access Edgar and to learn about the common mistakes made by many first-year associates while doing securities work.”
On Doing Well by Doing Good – Pro Bono taught by Patrick Dinardo:
“It was great to learn about the various pro bono projects that have been completed in the past at the firm. I like that Pat encouraged us to do a certain amount of pro bono work each year.”