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WHAT WE’RE WATCHING

ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT – At a time when law firms are (or at least say they are) more concerned than ever about keeping associates engaged, it seems like many are doing a pretty subpar job of actually engaging associates. As Patrick Smith reports, practice leaders are noticing a trend of delayed full utilization, often brought about by lack of opportunity and direct mentorship. The result may be a generation of associates whose professional growth has been stunted. It’s not all law firms’ fault, however: the trend predates, but was undoubtedly accelerated by, COVID-19, which has led to training program budget cuts and less face time between associates and partners. “Slowly, over the last five to seven years, we were seeing a slower uptick in the productivity of brand new lawyers,” said Stephen D’Amore, co-chair of Winston & Strawn’s litigation department. “It was taking longer for them to be fully utilized than what I remember. It was already a trend, and I think the pandemic-related shutdowns exacerbated that.”

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