Guiding the green Featured

9:38am EDT July 22, 2002

Growing professionally is a continuous process at Squire, Sanders & Dempsey LLP.

With corporate offices in Cleveland and more than 550 attorneys and 20 offices in cities around the world, including Columbus, SS&D offers several training programs to help guide the careers of its associates.

"Business development is not a skill that you learn in college or law school," says Alex Shumate, SS&D's managing partner in Columbus. "It's a mindset that you develop over the course of your experience. As Squire, Sanders & Dempsey LLP is committed to lifelong learning for all associates and partners, we take an active role to ensure that they receive the resources necessary to ensure personal and professional growth."

An example of that commitment is SS&D's monthly New Associate Training sessions. Topics such as "Accepting Assignments & Managing Your Workload" and "Public Service Work and Community Activities" help new attorneys learn over a span of nine months about the mechanics and culture of the legal profession.

Karen Winters, a partner in the Columbus office who teaches a session in associate evaluation, says SS&D's orientation program gives new hires a sense of the whole.

"It's largely informational," she explains. "We want new associates to know about all of the services the office has to offer to make their jobs easier. They also need to be familiar with substantive areas of the law which they may need to interact with to provide quality legal services to a client."

To help meet these goals, Winters says, new associates are trained in using the firm's technology to conduct advanced legal research and attend presentations given by SS&D attorneys who specialize in such areas as tax, public or environmental law.

Another example of the firm's commitment to training is "SS&D University," typically a two-day workshop at which a panel of SS&D partners provides new associates with an overview of the firm's markets and plans for the future, guides them in developing personal business development plans and gives them pointers on bolstering client relationships.

Three years ago, SS&D began a bimonthly training program aimed at helping its mid- to senior-level associates better market their services. Working with groups of 10 associates at a time, the Business Development Group includes senior partners in the firm who share their experiences in maintaining and enhancing client relationships and generating new business opportunities.

As part of the same initiative, SS&D brings in outside speakers, including public relations strategists who discuss ways to build relationships and enhance image and reputation, and past clients to share the factors they use in selecting outside counsel.

SS&D sees training as an investment in its future, Shumate says. "We realize that it is imperative to invest time further developing our young associates and their continued growth, for they are the future of our business," he says. "They appreciate the level to which we focus upon their continued success. Ultimately, as they grow, generate new business and establish sound client relationships, they bring success to the firm as a whole." How to reach: Squire, Sanders & Dempsey LLP, www.ssd.com, 365-2700

Muntaqima Abdur-Rashid is a Columbus-based free-lance writer.