We support formal training programs and our attorneys or outside experts regularly hold educational sessions. In addition, we support attendance at training programs provided by organizations such as NITA, the Practicing Law Institute and Continuing Education of the Bar.
We have established a fruitful relationship with the San Francisco Public Defender and District Attorney. Keker & Van Nest associates spend three to four months working in those offices, during which time they handle misdemeanor trials. Partner Gene Paige, who spent three months as an associate trying nine cases for the DA's office, says of his experience, "There is nothing more valuable to young lawyers than the chance to get on their feet in front of a jury as a first chair at trial. Working in the DA's office helped me develop practical knowledge of how trials actually work and how jurors really think."
Each new associate is assigned a partner and an associate mentor, who assist with the orientation process and provide ongoing support. The initial orientation process includes an introduction to the firm's culture, practices and procedures, as well as meetings and training sessions with various administrative staff.
We also hold an annual new associate retreat. At this two-day, off-site event, partners lead substantial trial practice sessions, and attendees have the chance to form relationships with their fellow attorneys.
Regular feedback is, of course, a key component of training. We encourage partners to provide associates with timely feedback on legal writing, oral advocacy, and other litigation skills. In addition, the partnership meets twice a year to discuss associate performance and to gather specific information that is conveyed to associates to help them mature as litigators.