Associate Development

At Dechert, we give you the tools, experiences and opportunities to develop into effective lawyers and leaders. These opportunities include firmwide trainings across all of our offices, tailored regional programs and mentoring and individual shadowing opportunities.

Critical Skills Institute

The Critical Skills Institute is Dechert’s core competency program designed to help you think strategically about your professional goals and identify actual steps you can take to reach those goals.

Through interactive simulated experiences, presentations by partners and personal coaching workshops, the Institute helps you develop your leadership, communication, client relations and management skills and maximize your potential.

Dechert Speakers’ Society

The Speakers’ Society helps associates network across offices and practice groups while also honing their presentation skills. Associates can opt into this voluntary program, and during the meetings, associates practice upcoming presentations and receive immediate peer feedback. All members have the opportunity for one-on-one presentation skills coaching from internal and external coaches, as well.

We also offer lectures by prominent industry experts, such as Harvard Business School Professor, Ashish Nanda; communications coach, Lane Bowes; University of Virginia Law School Professor, Molly Bishop Shadel; and international law firm consultant, Terri Mottershead, on significant career development topics. Recent courses include:

  • Oral Communication Skills for Lawyers
  • Membership Has Its Benefits – Forming Strategic Relationships
  • Rules of Engagement: Networking and Business Etiquette
  • Managing Relations in an Ever-Changing Global Environment
  • Are You In? LinkedIn/Social Media Training
  • Presence and Profiles: The Art of Reading Others
  • Time and Information Management
  • Creating Business Development Opportunities
  • Building and Supervising Effective Teams: Managing, Delegating, and Giving Effective Feedback
  • Managing Client Expectations
  • Effective Problem Solving and Crisis Management
  • Client Communication Skills: Running Client Meetings and Having Difficult Conversations
  • Legal Contract Drafting 


Each fall, our new class of associates attend a firmwide orientation. It is an opportunity for our new associates to meet the other members of their class; gain a greater understanding of both the firm as a whole and our expectations of associates; and learn more about available firm resources.


Dechert supports mentoring as a way for associates to integrate into the firm and to advance professionally. Informal mentoring over lunch or coffee is encouraged between all partners and associates. Dechert practice groups sponsor formal mentoring programs that designate official mentors and mentees, provide training for participants and host numerous social opportunities. For example, the Corporate & Securities group hosts quarterly mentoring weeks during which mentor matches can meet for lunches.


Every associate is encouraged to take advantage of Dechert’s innovative shadowing program. Shadowing consists of activities such as accompanying a partner to an arbitration, board meeting, negotiation, hearing, trial, client meeting, client pitch or similar event. The purpose of shadowing a partner is for an associate to watch, listen and learn. Dechert’s shadowing program greatly increases the opportunities for associates to interact with and learn from partners and associates are given 25 hours of credit for shadowing.

Annual and Mid-Year Evaluations

At Dechert, mid-year evaluations offer an informal check-in on an associate’s development. More formal annual evaluations provide associates and counsel with specific progress reports on their mastery of the critical skills and practice group competencies and benchmarks. Partners, practice group leadership and the Talent Team are all integrally involved in this process to ensure that feedback is timely, candid, meaningful and constructive.

Upward Reviews

Dechert’s annual upward review program gives associates the opportunity to provide feedback to partners, counsel and senior associates. The anonymous responses are valued as an essential way for Dechert lawyers to continue to advance and develop.

Legal Training

Specialized training programs give Dechert associates the knowledge and skills they need to become leaders in their chosen practice areas. In addition to weekly practice group trainings, our lawyers also have free access to hundreds of live on-demand webcast and MP3 CLE courses. The Talent Team also coordinates monthly firmwide courses on legal topics of interest to lawyers at all levels and practice areas. Dechert is an approved CLE provider for credit in California, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Texas.

Career Counseling

Dechert is committed to building a supportive culture at the firm including coaching our associates to succeed not only while they are at Dechert but also if they pursue other career paths. Dechert’s Associate Development Counselor talks on a confidential basis with any associate about any aspect of career development, whether the associate wants to manage his/her career at the firm or to explore other career options. We want every associate to have the benefit of career counseling, and we want those who leave Dechert to do so with the confidence that they have developed skills and experiences that are second to none.

The Talent Team has the resources to help all of our lawyers integrate into and develop at the firm. We hold reunions with our extensive network of alumni, many of whom are valued clients and professional contacts.

We enrich our associates’ careers in numerous other ways as well. We help build individual development plans, support public speaking opportunities and encourage participation in networking events.

Exceptional Teacher Awards

The firm’s Exceptional Teacher Awards program is a testament to Dechert’s supportive culture, which is rich with informal mentoring, hands-on training opportunities and a collegial spirit. This past year, a total of 160 nominations were submitted by associates and practice groups, nominating 71 lawyers from 12 practice groups and 18 offices. All of the nominees are truly deserving, but nine earned the Exceptional Teacher Award as well as $10,000 and a commemorative plaque. Read about the 2016 winners here.


Interested in learning more? Please contact: 
, Chief Talent Officer

Interested in a career at Dechert? Visit our Careers page.