Accelerate Career Start

What is the Goal of Accelerate Career Start?

A strong foundation during the first-year in practice will have a lasting impact on the careers of attorneys. The result will be more attorneys staying at their firms and in the profession longer and reaching for higher leadership positions.

The goal of the program is to improve the retention of women associates and strengthen the pipeline to partnership. Additionally, Accelerate Career Start will demonstrate the value to law firms of investing in first-year associate professional development.

Despite entering in equal numbers, women continue to leave the profession at higher rates than men. Accelerate Career Start is an innovative program that focuses on the transition for new associates navigating their way from law school to practicing lawyer. It is the only program of its kind designed to improve and strengthen the first-year experience, which often determines the career trajectories of attorneys.

Why is Accelerate Career Start Important?

Accelerate Career Start creates a unique opportunity for women associates to practice key skills that will accelerate the transition from law student to lawyer while developing strong and diverse networks outside of the law firm.

Participants will attend an initial program, followed by cohort meetings throughout the calendar year, led by expert speakers curated by the Center for Women in Law focusing on the following topics to maximize their potential, increase confidence, and accelerate the transition from high-achieving law students to high-performing lawyers:

Understanding the Business of Law

First-year attorneys are not thinking like a partner – yet.  Law firms provide orientation and training on how a law firm works, billing requirements, and how to prepare time sheets.  However, the training often falls short of its goal for first-year associates to understand the business of a law firm.  During this session, Accelerate participants will gain a closer look at how a law firm functions, the roles of the management committee, and where junior associates fit in the equation.  As a result, participants will have a more clear, top-down view of the law firm practice that will guide their progress both as they develop their skills within the law firm and also open their minds to consider the future possibilities of business development and growth within the law firm.

Communicate with Impact

Speaking confidently – or not – can make or break a young lawyer’s career.  We will highlight verbal and nonverbal communication styles and mannerisms that may undermine the appearance of confidence and provides Accelerate participants with practical strategies for communicating effectively.  Participants will learn ways to present research in an effective and organized manner, exhibit ownership over an assignment, ask for clarity when necessary, and respond confidently when unsure of the answer to a question.  Practitioners will coach participants towards cleaner, tighter speech by, among other things, dropping filler words such as “um,” “uh,” and “like” and removing any upswing or questioning tone from the end of declarative sentences.  As a result, participants will learn how to communicate with greater impact within their organizations to have their voices and ideas heard.

Develop Your Practice

Client satisfaction and business development are fundamental skills all attorneys must cultivate for a successful career within a law firm.  The Develop Your Practice session will provide an opportunity for Accelerate participants to better understand how to demonstrate their value during their first year, how to reach out to partners and obtain the type of work that will lead to advancement within the law firm, and how to create an action plan for business development and future growth.

Follow-Up Roundtable Discussions (quarterly meetings)

Accelerate participants are given a unique opportunity – year-long access to significant and personalized mentoring from the Center for Women in Law.  The quarterly meetings will reinforce the learnings from the previously listed topics while providing a support community to discuss challenges, answer questions, and offer real-time guidance as needed throughout the year. The roundtables, co-facilitated by an attorney coach, will also serve as a foundation for building cohort networks.

CWIL will use the program to better understand the impact of the early career experience on women’s advancement and will share the insights we develop with participating law firms.

Learn more about this year’s program details.