Law Firms

How to develop and keep associates? BigLaw firm tries embedding career coaches

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Vinson & Elkins has hired seven career coaches and embedded them in firm practice groups. They will intervene as needed to get associates and partners on the right track.

“The goal,” according to Bloomberg Law, “is to ensure that junior lawyers, particularly women and racial minorities, get an opportunity to move up the ranks.”

Bloomberg Law spoke with the law firm’s recruiting chief, Hy Pomerance, about why he hired the seven “attorney development professionals” during his first six months on the job at Vinson & Elkins.

Pomerance said Wall Street banks begin developing executives from the time that they are associates. But in law firms, “most partners haven’t had a stick of professional development,” he said.

Pomerance and Deborah Martin Owens, the chief diversity officer, will conduct quarterly diversity audits that look at the type of matters assigned to associates and the pitches that they are participating in.

The attorney development team will also track productivity and engagement—whether associates are asking for work during slow times. And they will track how many opportunities associates have to shadow partners.

“You want to balance not creating a bureaucracy,” Pomerance explained to Bloomberg Law. “But there is a lot of important data you need to combine to understand what’s really going on.”

Pomerance formerly worked as a human resources executive at UBS, an investment banking company, as a human resources executive at New York Life Insurance and as chief talent officer at Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton.

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