What to Expect?
We assign new associates to one of our practice groups based on identified skills, their preferences and our needs. The practice groups provide new attorneys and attorneys new to the firm with support from those working on similar matters. While legal specialization is encouraged, many attorneys work in multiple areas and collaborate across practice groups, particularly when dictated by client needs.
At Downey Brand, our practice constantly evolves to meet the changing needs of our clients, business trends and the economy. One way that we have maintained a solid reputation for excellence in the practice of law and client service has been the ongoing training and development of our attorneys.
The firm has a formal training program in place to make sure our attorneys are proficient in all aspects of practicing law—from written discovery, to mediation and alternative dispute resolution, to negotiating and drafting agreements. We hold on-site seminars throughout the year that qualify for Continuing Legal Education credits. We also bring in outside presenters from accounting firms and the courts, for example, to expose our attorneys to a broader range of experience. In addition, we pay the cost for attorneys to pursue additional training outside the firm that is offered through bar associations and professional trade groups.
Downey Brand understands that today’s associates consider active mentorship a priority, and Downey Brand shares this focus. The program generally breaks down as follows:
- Junior associates, typically those in their first through third years of practice, are all assigned a formal mentor upon starting at Downey Brand. This mentor is usually a senior associate or junior partner from within the same practice group, with the idea being that the more senior attorney can help the junior associate learn the substantive practice of law, as well as how to navigate firm life on both a professional and personal level. Junior associates enjoy the benefits of having a formal mentor assigned to them for the first three years of practice.
- Lateral hires also receive formal mentors for their first year after joining the firm. Like junior associates, their mentors are typically assigned from within the same practice group, with the focus of those relationships being on acclimating to life at Downey Brand.
- Mid- to senior-level associates receive ongoing mentorship from senior attorneys and partners within their practice groups. In addition to this substantive mentoring, these associates also participate in a quarterly lunch program, where every three months they are paired for a lunch date with partners from outside their practice groups. The goals of this quarterly lunch program are to make sure that the associates at Downey Brand are interacting with partners from all practice groups, and seeking mentoring advice from diverse resources. Well-renowned by the partners, this lunch program is also a great opportunity for the partners to get to know all the associates.
In addition to the foregoing, Downey Brand hosts monthly CLE programs that focus on a variety of substantive issues, and regularly sends associates to outside CLE trainings, including but not limited to NITA deposition and trial trainings and Bryan Garner legal writing workshops (both litigation- and contract-based).
To demonstrate its commitment to this mentoring program, the firm occasionally awards prizes and accolades to mentors who receive significant praise from their mentees. These prizes have come in a variety of forms over the years, such as travel vouchers, trophies, and bragging rights.
In order to help associates and counsel meet their professional development goals, performance evaluations are conducted annually each fall by the partners in the associate’s practice group and any other partner or counsel the associate identifies to provide feedback through an evaluation. First-year associates and lateral hires receive a mid-year evaluation as well as the fall evaluation. Evaluations constructively identify specific strengths and areas for improvement in order to improve legal skills and business judgment. Evaluating partners also use their experience with the associate to suggest professional development goals and milestones to be pursued in the upcoming year.
Associates are paid based on their class year at competitive rates using an automatic lockstep increase, with raises effective on January 1 of each year. After six months of employment, associates can participate in our bonus system, which contains clearly articulated guidelines for annual bonuses. Partners may also choose to award “spot bonuses” at any time during the year to recognize excellence, diligence, or an outstanding result.
Downey Brand provides, at the firm’s expense, the following benefits to all attorneys who are employed a minimum of 30 hours a week:
- Medical/Dental/Vision coverage
- Life insurance
- 401(k) plan with employer match
- Employer contribution plan
- Paid and unpaid parental leave
- Employee parking or transportation allowance
- Vacation (unlimited)
- Relocation bonus
- Pre-tax flexible spending account
- Short and long-term disability insurance
- Employee assistance program
- Bar expenses
- Firm retreat and other social events
Bar-Related Expenses for New Associates
If you accept the firm’s offer of employment prior to taking the bar exam, we will reimburse you for documented expenses customarily incurred when taking the exam. The firm also provides a $5,000 bar study stipend to all incoming fall associates.