Advance Your Career
We assign associates to one of our practice groups based on identified skills, their preferences, their experience, and our needs. Associates are quickly given as much responsibility as they demonstrate that they are able to effectively manage. This responsibility includes hands-on projects and extensive client interaction.
The practice groups provide associates 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.
We view the training and development of our attorneys as critical for maintaining and growing Downey Brand’s reputation.
The firm has a formal training rubric that incorporates both internal and external programs to ensure 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 focus on a variety of substantive issues. We bring in outside experts like accountants and court staff to expose our attorneys to a broad 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, including NITA Deposition and Trial Skills and Bryan Garner legal writing workshops (both litigation- and contract-based).
We understand that active mentorship is necessary to build an inclusive and supportive community. We have implemented a robust mentorship program to help new attorneys to the firm maximize their professional success at Downey Brand. The program includes:
- Junior associates in their first through fourth years of practice are assigned a formal mentor upon starting at Downey Brand. This mentor is a senior associate or junior partner from the same practice group. The mentor is able to help the junior associate learn how to navigate the firm on both a professional and personal level. Junior associates report that they enjoy the benefits of having a formal mentor assigned to them for the first four years of practice.
- 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 with partners from outside their practice groups. The quarterly lunch program ensures that the associates have the opportunity to interact with partners from all practice groups, and it fosters informal mentoring relationships from all of the firms’ diverse resources.
- Lateral attorneys also receive a formal mentor assignment for their first year after joining the firm. Like with the junior associates, the mentors are typically assigned from within the same practice group, with the focus of those relationships being on acclimating to life at Downey Brand.
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 incentive attorneys to fully engage in the mentorship programs, the firm annually awards prizes and accolades to mentors who receive the highest reviews from their mentees. These prizes have included travel vouchers, trophies, and bragging rights.
In order to help associates meet their professional development goals, performance evaluations are conducted annually each fall by the partners. The firm has developed checklists to ensure that all associates are getting the substantive opportunities they need to keep their development on pace. In addition, first-year associates and lateral attorneys receive a mid-year evaluation after their first six months at the firm. The evaluation process constructively identifies specific strengths and areas for improvement in order to maximize legal skills, business judgment, and professional development for each of Downey Brand’s attorneys.
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 the following benefits to all attorneys who are employed a minimum of 30 hours a week:
- Medical, dental, and vision coverage
- Life insurance
- 401(k) plan with employer match
- Employer contribution plan
- Paid and unpaid parental leave
- Parking or transportation allowance
- Relocation bonus
- Pre-tax flexible spending account
- Short and long-term disability insurance
- Employee assistance program
- Bar dues and continuing education 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 first-year associates.