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Making Professional Development More Than a Buzzword


September 29, 2021

Read Time

2 minutes


Author: Melissa Nelson

At LP, we strive to build a culture that doesn’t just attract great lawyers and professionals, but to be a firm that also empowers people to grow personally and professionally. Professional development shouldn’t just be a buzzword, something to be touted in recruiting materials; rather it should be intentional and comprehensive. It should be part of who you are as an organization.

Here are a few ways you can move professional development beyond buzzword status at your organization:

  • Be intentional with the timing of group and personal plans. At LP, we recently shifted the timing of group plans to have group plans completed before personal plans so that individuals could connect their personal plans to the group’s goals. We also increased the support provided to practice group leaders as they build their group plans, including a working meeting with each department chair, and a representative from professional development, business development, and marketing. This enables leaders to create group plans that are more robust, organized, and intentional.
  • If individual support isn’t an option, consider providing recorded guided sessions. These sessions can be recorded in advance so that members of your organization can listen to the guided recordings for assistance as they prepare their individual plans.
  • Offer frequent check-ins rather than an annual review. At LP, an important step between the group plan completion and personal plan development is the career development check-in, part of our quarterly check-in process that is career-focused and a prerequisite to working on the personal plan. Regular check-ins facilitate more frequent feedback than an annual review. They are also future-focused rather than dissecting what was done in the past. Check-ins allow managers and employees to say, where do we want to go from here and then figure out how they can work together to get there. 
  • Get bold with leadership training. At LP, our first group of participants successfully completed the LEAD Program – LP’s inaugural leadership program which I custom built in collaboration with UpSpiral Leadership. Participants in the LEAD Program included the next generation of firm leadership.
  • Continue – and perhaps ramp up – mentorship programs. It is more important than ever to build relationships across the organization while working remotely or in a hybrid workplace.
  • Offer a robust coaching program. Contrary to misguided stereotypes, coaching is not for “problem children”, nor is it punitive. Coaching is a sign the organization is invested in its employees’ growth and development. I’m proud of the growth we’ve had in people working with various coaches, and personally I can attest to the transformative experience I had working with a coach. I’m very grateful to the firm for its investment in me.

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