A program at Fenwick & West that asks associates to review the partners who mentor them was recently the subject of a front-page article in The Recorder entitled "How to Make Associates Stick Around."
Associates may voluntarily and anonymously evaluate the partners through this program, which was implemented three years ago. It is among the latest professional development techniques designed to help young lawyers mature.
A policy that ties associate responses to the partners' year-end bonuses reflects Fenwick's commitment to developing their associates. Improved workplace relations between partners and associates are the result. Fenwick's director of professional development, Cheri Vaillancour, said that the reviews have lead some partners to change their behavior. "There are some who've learned something about themselves they were clueless about."
Fenwick corporate partner Mark Leahy agrees. "It may not be magic, but there are results," he said. After associates wrote that they sometimes felt overextended and needed Leahy to show them how to balance their tasks, Leahy began to meet with younger associates to map out deals and create timelines.
Objective feedback opens communication channels between associates and partners, produces a more supportive environment, and results in greater productivity.