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BOSTON �— Ropes & Gray hired its first career guidance manager for associates this year, joining the growing ranks of law firms investing in career coaches to boost associate satisfaction and retention. The Boston-based firm lured Marjorie Boone from Harvard Law School, where she was assistant director for J.D. advising. Before her seven years at Harvard Law, Boone practiced employment law for eight years. “As the firm is growing on the national stage, they were trying to be innovative in the way they recruit and retain talent,” Boone said. “They want to hang onto people who are motivated and care about their future here and really feel connected with the firm.” Boone offers associates the opportunity to seek confidential advice on such issues as getting meaningful feedback from partners, making the transition from law school to a legal career, negotiating a reduced time schedule and taking advantage of opportunities at the firm. “My goal is to encourage associates to take control of their own careers,” Boone said. Ropes joins other firms stepping up support for associates. Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe, for example, made a similar move in the spring of 2007 and now has a career counselor on each coast, said spokeswoman Elyse Blazey. Arnold & Porter in Washington, D.C., Paul, Hastings, Janofsky & Walker and Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice, also offer career help to associates, according to Legal Times, an affiliate of The National Law Journal. “I think you’ll see more and more firms doing this,” Boone said. “You invest a huge amount of time and money in recruiting people, and if you don’t keep them happy [and they leave] it’s a sunk cost.”

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