Global Critical Skills Institute


To maintain our place among the elite firms in the world, we need ambitious people delivering the exceptional service and innovative thinking our clients expect. We believe the key to achieving this is empowering our people to do their very best. Dechert’s Global Critical Skills Institute sets out the firm’s expectations for associates in four areas that we believe are essential to every lawyer’s success: Communication, Client Relations, Management and Leadership. Our faculty comprises a mix of external and internal experts, allowing us to draw on the knowledge and capabilities of renowned specialists, as well as the experience of our partners, associates and members of our Leadership and Professional Development teams. The Global Critical Skills Curriculum sits alongside practice group training, which builds associates’ substantive legal expertise, as well as programs focused on diversity, well-being, compliance and innovation. All associates are encouraged to engage with our in-house executive coach, who is available to help them develop their critical skills in a 1:1 confidential setting.

The Global Critical Skills Curriculum offers two types of programs: immersive and impact.

Immersive Programs

Immersive programs bring global associates together with a cohort of peers so they can build their community while honing the skills most relevant to their level of experience. The programs take place annually and blend both in-person and virtual sessions.

Impact Programs

Impact programs are short sessions focused on one or more of the four skills: Communication, Client Relations, Management and Leadership. The programs cover a variety of topics, and associates select from a menu of options each month. Topics include:

Understanding Self
Managing Others
Interpersonal Skills
Business Development
Innovation and AI


A snapshot of what we offer

  • Establishing Your Personal Brand
  • Mastering the Networking Event
  • It’s All About Speed: Using Innovative Technology to Conduct Your Legal Work Faster
  • Navigating Your Client’s Financial Statements
  • Giving and Receiving Feedback in a Way That Works
  • Effective Delegation
  • Marketing and Business Development 101: The Role of the Junior Associate

By changing the focus of our programs as associates progress, our Global Critical Skills Curriculum ensures that all associates achieve the right skills at the right time, whatever career path they ultimately choose.

  • Junior associates develop the ability to communicate and work successfully with others. We help them hone precise speaking and writing skills, build their client and peer networks, recognize their preferred working style, understand what motivates them to perform at their best, and develop skills around managing themselves effectively.

    Immersive Program: Your Professional Brand

    “Your Professional Brand” is our immersive program for junior lawyers. It focuses on helping associates understand their own working style and how they can work more effectively with others, particularly those with different working styles.

  • Midlevel associates continue to adapt their interpersonal style and strengthen the skills required for effective people management. They learn strategies to help them get the best out of more senior colleagues, peers, and less experienced team members. We also help them master the ability to assert an opinion and inspire confidence in colleagues and clients and encourage them to raise their profile by broadening and deepening internal and external networks.  Midlevels also take greater responsibility for running matters and start to notice how different factors affect profitability. They are encouraged to look for opportunities to develop relationships with lawyers outside their immediate team and better understand the work of other practice groups, consolidating their knowledge of their legal practice in the broader commercial context.

    Immersive Program: Management Fundamentals

    ‘Management Fundamentals’ is our immersive program for midlevel lawyers. It educates our lawyers on what it means to be a successful midlevel associate by focusing on how to manage and motivate others and how to apply the key principles of good delegation and feedback.  

  • Senior associates continue to develop skills to inspire loyalty and command respect. We encourage them to demonstrate a global outlook and remain alert to how their practice fits into the evolving global strategy of the firm, helping them develop a realistic and effective personal business plan that reflects current market conditions. We give our senior associates the support and knowledge they need to be an effective ambassador of the firm and teach them how to use their interpersonal skills to transform others’ thinking and influence outcomes.

    Immersive Program: Strategic Business Planning and Development

    “Strategic Business Planning and Development” is our immersive program for senior lawyers in the pipeline to partnership. It focuses on the importance of thinking and behaving like a businessperson rather than just a technical lawyer. Seniors are equipped with the skills they need to actively manage their career and improve their understanding of strategy, effective business planning, the overall business development process and the key attributes needed to become a successful leader. They are given practical guidance on how to put together their business plan and are matched with a Business Plan Adviser. This is a partner who meets with them regularly to help them prepare their case for partnership.

Dechert Speakers’ Society

Our unique Speakers’ Society is a core part of our Critical Skills offering and is open to all associates, regardless of where they are in their career. It provides all associates with the opportunity to develop their public speaking skills in a supportive, learn-by-doing environment where they receive immediate peer feedback while simultaneously raising their profile and networking across offices and practice groups.