Playbook from a Successful Virtual Summer Program Sets Up Fall Start Date for First-Year Class

Fenwick Chief Talent Officer Neha Shah Nissen spoke with Reuters about the firm’s 2020 first-year associate class, who started with the firm on October 19th and are working entirely remotely for the foreseeable future out of concern for the coronavirus pandemic.

While many firms postponed their first-year associate class start dates to 2021, Nissen told the publication that Fenwick’s incoming new lawyers will “hit the ground running” this fall given the substantial volume of client work flowing from the technology and life sciences sectors. She also noted that the firm’s initial reservations with respect to virtually onboarding and integrating a first-year class “totally evaporated” after a positive experience with Fenwick’s virtual summer associate program.

"The energy of being in-person is irreplaceable, but we learned a lot from our summer program on how to run a virtual orientation and virtual training," Nissen said. "We also took on a completely new approach to mentoring."

Nissen also talked to The American Lawyer about Fenwick’s virtual first-year class and described the small cohort training strategy the firm has implemented for its new associates.

“We plan to treat these cohorts as small group discussion sections in which they can focus on building professional and substantive skills as they receive guidance related to the work assignments and matters on which they’re staffed,” Nissen said. “This also provides an opportunity for them to bond with one another and create a support system.”

The full articles are available on Reuters and The American Lawyer.