professional development 

Individualized and integrated professional development is part of the commitment we make to our associates consistent with our Shared Compact.  Our comprehensive training programs and personalized approach to mentoring, work allocation, and performance review programs complement the unparalleled opportunities for informal training and real-time feedback that derive from our associate-to-partner ratio and one-office model.  At Choate, associates are expected to play an active role in managing their careers, and partners are invested in developing associates and helping them succeed.


Associates participate in training programs that anticipate the substantive and technical knowledge they need to succeed in practice.  Our Professional Development team collaborates with Training Advisors (typically the Partners in each practice group) to design a training curriculum for associates in each department and across experience levels.  Training programs focus on technical legal skills, substantive areas of the law, business concepts and trends in relevant industries, as well as leadership, management and professional skills.  Several training programs – such as a mock motion session before Chief Justice Margaret Marshall, formerly the Chief Justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court – are interactive.  Associates learn by doing. 

In addition to our in-house training programs, associates have the opportunity to work one-on-one with professional coaches and participate in external training programs, such as the National Institute for Trial Advocacy’s Trial Skills and Deposition Skills programs.

On the Job Training (OJT)

Consistent with the Firm’s overall objective of attracting, training, developing and retaining the very best talent at all levels, Choate has an “on the job training” program which allows all lawyers, patent agents and staff scientists to take advantage of learning experiences for time that may not be billed to the client. These experiences help Choate’s attorneys develop skills by watching experienced attorneys perform high-skill and high-value tasks so we are better able collectively to deliver exceptional service, results and value to the Firm’s clients.

Depending on an attorney’s seniority level, OJT opportunities may include observing other Choate lawyers taking depositions, interviewing witnesses, trying a case, negotiating a deal, giving a presentation, etc., or observing other members of Choate teams discussing strategies and providing advice to clients.


Relationships and mentoring are critical to one’s development as a lawyer.  With all lawyers under one roof, it is easier to develop strong relationships with professionals at all levels of practice in a firm our size.  Although it is common for associates and partners to develop these relationships informally, through day-to-day interaction, our formal mentoring program provides another framework through which associates collaborate with partners to develop the relationships and substantive, technical and professional skills necessary to achieve their career goals. 

The first-year associate mentoring program is designed to match new associates with one partner and one associate mentor from his/her department.  Partner and associate mentors help our new associates integrate both professionally and socially.  Although new associates have typically developed a working relationship with their partner and associate mentors as summer associates, these mentoring pairings are often different from their summer associate mentor pairings, which allows new associates to further expand their internal networks. After the first year in practice, associates collaborate with the Professional Development team to select a partner mentor pairing that will meet their individual needs and goals.  Associates may prefer to work in a mentoring pair with a partner from their own department or outside of their department.

Work Allocation

Each department has a practicing partner responsible for work allocation. Associate workload, hours, and developmental goals and experiences all factor in to the assignment process at Choate.


Feedback is an important cornerstone of the culture at Choate and a critical element of our Shared Compact.  The Firm is committed to providing associates with timely, developmentally-focused feedback. 

Associates receive feedback throughout the year which enables them to continually progress and further develop the skills needed to advance.  Utilizing a tenure-specific framework intended to clarify performance expectations, the Professional Development team partners with each associate to develop a customized plan to solicit feedback regularly and to address development opportunities.

In addition to ongoing feedback, associates receive a formal annual review.  Reviews are a summary of the feedback an associate has received throughout the year with a focus on how they can reach the next level in their career.  The ongoing feedback and formal evaluation programs provide associates with concrete, actionable suggestions for continued success.  

Associates also participate in an annual upward review.  This provides a formal opportunity for associates to offer feedback to individual Partners, Counsel and Senior Associates on their performance in categories such as mentoring, managing and delegating, and training associates.  The reports provide the partnership and individual partners guidance on ways to improve their own performance and better manage, engage, and develop associates.


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