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Rating professional development programs for strong lawyers in terms of retention

A previous post summarized survey data on the purported laissez faire attitude of many firm and department managers about departures of top talent (See my post of Jan.17, 2008.). The same survey described there asked respondents to rate or list the “professional development programs” that are “most effective in retaining top performers” (See my posts of July 29, 2007 on high-potential lawyers and references cited.).

Mentoring programs led the results, with 46 percent choosing it. Far behind was continuing legal education (CLE) at 24 percent. Leadership training came third at 18 percent followed by a long drop to “participation in an exchange program in firm’s/company’s foreign location” at 2 percent. “Something else” was at 1 percent and “don’t know/no answer” garnered 9 percent.

These results mystify me. I believe that high-quality work and frequent recognition would best hold good lawyers. Mentoring is often about socialization (See my posts of Oct. 31, 2007 on mentoring and references cited; and Jan. 4, 2008 on socialization.). In terms of retaining stars, CLE doesn’t even seem to be a candidate for this list.

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