Training Tips from an Am Law Superstar
After leaping to the top of last year’s American Lawyer surveys on
summer-associate satisfaction and midlevel-associate satisfaction,
Baltimore-based Miles & Stockbridge, a Legal Writing Pro client, has done it
This year, the firm was the top-ranked firm in the country for
Last year, I asked Randi Lewis, the firm’s
Director of Diversity and Professional Development, to share why she thought her
firm keeps coming out so far ahead.
- Randi, congratulations on your superb American Lawyer satisfaction
rankings this year. Miles & Stockbridge was the only firm in the country to
rank in the top ten on both surveys. What’s the secret?
Ross, thank you very much. We are indeed delighted to be ranked so highly by
both our midlevel associates (2nd of 148) and our summer associates (5th of 159
in 2004; 1st in 2005). I think there are several reasons behind the high level
of job satisfaction we see here. The attraction, development, and promotion of
our associates (at every level) are incredibly important to us. The simple
answer is we are deliberate and focused about making sure they understand (and
feel) this with every interaction. We have new, visionary leadership with a
top-down commitment to firm initiatives—everything from client service to our
summer program. Education is also key to our associate and summer associate
- Let’s start with the associates. What specifically has worked for you in
Through our Miles & Stockbridge Education Forum, we teach associates both
fundamental legal skills and the esoteric nuances of our practices. Litigators
get a formal program every six to eight weeks on, say, how to take a deposition,
how to propound and respond to discovery, how to write better motions and
briefs, and how to manage ADR techniques.
Our corporate lawyers also meet monthly during lunch. Every time, we run an
educational program by one of our lawyers or an outside speaker on everything
from understanding due diligence to sales and purchase agreements, the basics of
taxable acquisitions, and recent intellectual property issues.
We also keep a library of Education Forum materials that our lawyers can
access at any time.
- How about your summer associates? Any tips on how firms can set themselves
apart from the crowd?
One thing I think is important is that all our firm colleagues participate in
the summer program, particularly the chairman of our firm, who participates in
several of our education forums. At least once a week, our summer associates get
a formal educational program on everything from client service and
confidentiality to memo and brief writing, oral advocacy, depositions, and
emerging employment-law issues.
This summer, we provided an additional writing workshop that you conducted
and an oral advocacy workshop by the head of our litigation department and one
of our experienced trial lawyers. Our summer associates raved about both
workshops. Many said that your workshop was the best writing course they had
ever taken. Your course gave our summer associates and fall associates practical
ways to turn in better work product. You identified the precise problems
partners say need improvement, and gave practical writing and editing strategies
to hone writing skills. This is exactly the type of training that may set our
program apart from others.
We also make sure we remain in touch with our summer associates to ensure
they stay directed in their work assignments. In the middle of our summer
program this year, we asked them what they wanted to know about our firm that
wasn’t already on our summer agenda. Within a day of receiving their responses,
we scheduled several additional educational forums and workshops to satisfy
Thanks again Randi for your insights and suggestions!
Interview conducted on Tuesday, November 9, 2004.
Order Point Made
Order Point Taken
Order Deal Struck