K&L Gates is strongly committed to our lawyers’ professional development. Our global Learning and Professional Development Department ("L&PD) functions as the central body overseeing the development and implementation of training programs and initiatives. The Department collaborates closely with Firm management and practice group and office leaders to develop an extensive range of formal and informal development opportunities and to ensure that global curricula are consistent across offices while, at the same time, addressing the unique needs of our lawyers in their local markets. At the associate level, L&PD programming and initiatives align closely with the Firm’s Associate Competencies and Annual Review Process to provide a comprehensive approach to lawyer development from the earliest stages.
Our programs comprise a vast selection of substantive and skills-based curricula. Substantive curricula concentrate on our key practice areas: Corporate and Transactional, Energy, Infrastructure and Resources, Finance, Financial Services, Intellectual Property, Labor, Employment and Workplace Safety, Litigation and Dispute Resolution, Policy and Regulatory, and Real Estate. Our partners, together with senior associates, compose our faculty and transmit firm values and culture as well as legal knowledge in our programs. Through our live local programs, firm wide videoconferences, and our on-line library, we showcase the talent, diversity, and experience of our lawyers across the globe.
We recognize that technical ability alone is not enough to equip our lawyers to thrive in today’s competitive legal marketplace. Thus, in addition to substantive law and practice group-specific programming, we also offer a curriculum in each of the following areas: Client Development and Relationship Management; Lawyering Skills, Practice Management; Professionalism and Ethics; Writing and Research; Pocket MBA; and Technological Competence. Programs in these areas are taught primarily through hands-on or interactive workshops led by our partners and other professionals, as well as nationally recognized consultants. Both the substantive and skills curricula offer a range of developmentally appropriate programs for all of our lawyers: graduates/trainees, associates and partners. Through our emerging Global Technology Curriculum, developed in concert with the firm’s Information Technology Department, we seek to elevate the technical proficiency of our lawyers to maximize efficiency and productivity and to deliver the highest caliber of service to the firm’s clients. Technology also plays a significant role in our efforts – from the regular use of firm-wide videoconferencing and WebEx to deliver consistent training on important substantive legal topics to our Global Online Learning Center and Practicing Law Institute (PLI) access providing our lawyers with 24-hour access to recordings of our in-house training programs as well as PLI’s extensive library of programs.
The Global Associate Liaison Committee ("GALC"), which is composed of 13 associates from across the firm, serves as a global resource for associates to raise issues and concerns affecting associate life for discussion with the firm's Executive Committee. The GALC promotes intergenerational excellence through cross-office and local-office associate communication and networking, and cultivates a common associate culture. The Committee has developed several highly successful initiatives including a Sister Office Program, Local Associate Liaison Committees, initiatives to facilitate business development and cross-office work and a Global Day of Service. K&L Gates won the "Global Corporate Social Responsibility Initiative of the Year" recognition in honor of our inaugural Global Day of Service. The award, part of the overall “Citizenship” category, was given as part of The American Lawyer's 2014 Global Legal Awards.
At K&L Gates, we take an intergenerational view of talent and make a significant investment in cultivating the future leaders of the firm through key initiatives such as the Path to Equity Partnership Program (PEPP) and milestone events like the Global Associate Symposium. PEPP is a comprehensive program for our income partners designed to weave them quickly into the fabric of the partnership and inculcate in them a sense of ownership in the firm. We’re in the process of integrating competencies and have incorporated other key elements, including: a Leadership College for newly promoted income partners to learn from and interact with members of K&L Gates’ executive committee who serve as the College’s faculty, an Income Partner Advisory Committee composed of income partners from across the globe who advise firm leaders on the implementation of PEPP and other related initiatives, development plan tools, financial counseling meetings, and a series of developmental videos that range in topic from the firm’s global vision, values, and strategy to expectations for income partners and the financial aspects of firm partnership.
Our most recent Global Associate Symposium focused on the theme “The Power of Global Collaboration” and on understanding the challenges facing a modern law firm. Nearly 70 senior associates representing offices across the globe were divided into diverse teams or “pods” (based on practice groups, offices, gender, and individual strengths.) The teams were given several challenges to solve in three main areas (legal industry, firm management and individual/personal issues) and tasked with finding innovative and creative ideas and solutions through the process of collaboration and teamwork. Executive Committee members served as mentors and advisors for the pods, and firm leaders presented TED-style talks or “lessons” on teamwork, leadership and coaching that encouraged our high performing associates to take risks, think imaginatively, and work collaboratively with colleagues around the world.
Our commitment and investment in lawyer training and development are further evidenced by our broad definition of professional development. Informal training takes place through a combination of mentoring and coaching, the associate review process, pro bono work, and participation in practice groups. Our mentoring programs ensure that each junior lawyer has a one-on-one mentoring relationship with a partner. The programs focus on accelerating our lawyers’ learning processes by translating legal knowledge into effective legal practice in order to improve the delivery of services to our clients. Mentors assist junior associates by emphasizing the firm’s values, imparting the understanding of the firm’s competencies and expectations and providing guidance to assist new lawyers with navigating their early career development. Associates are also encouraged to discuss performance feedback with their mentors to identify developmental priorities and strategies for achieving them.
The Annual Review Process also provides a structured platform for meaningful feedback and assistance in our associates’ development. This process is intended to be a constructive, proactive mechanism through which future growth is reviewed and discussed and appropriate promotion decisions are made. Our Associate Competencies, Learning and Professional Development curricula, Mentoring Program, and Annual Review Process are seamlessly integrated to ensure a consistent and integrated approach to professional growth and development throughout an associate’s career.