Attorneys at Husch Blackwell are heading back to school: The Washington University in St. Louis School of Law, to be precise.

The firm has teamed up with the law school to launch a training program for partners that will focus on business strategy and economics, leadership development and client relationships.

Some 30 Husch Blackwell partners will spend three three-day sessions throughout the year at the school under instruction by members of the law and business faculties. The program, which kicks off this fall, is geared primarily toward newly minted partners. The firm plans to offer the instruction every year.

“This program is an innovative way to offer high-level professional development to attorneys at a crucial time in their practice,” law dean Kent Syverud said.

The professional development program has been in the works for close to a year, according to Husch Blackwell Chairman Maurice Watson.

The first of the three program segments will focus on finance and accounting, the second on client relationships and business development and the third on leadership skills and team building.

“[The first module] is really bringing all of our young partners up to the level of understanding we think is necessary regarding the business of our clients and the business of the firm itself,” Watson said. “Very few law schools require students to take courses on accounting or finance principles, but we want to make sure young partners understand how we assess the financial performance of the firm.”

The program will bring new partners up to speed on the firm’s business strategy and prepare them to better manage workflow, Watson said.

A number of law schools have been branching out into executive education for lawyers. Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy in 2011 began sending mid-level associates to eight-day training sessions at Harvard Law School, which already had been offering specialized executive lawyer training. Georgetown University Law Center launched a similar initiative in 2012.

This is the first large-scale law firm educational program Washington University has been a part of, said law professor Hillary Sale, although it has offered continuing legal education courses in the past. The law school has no plans to offer similar services to other firms but “we’re certainly very open to that,” Sale said. “But this particular program is very customized to Husch Blackwell and its strategy and culture.”

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