Leary Davis explores models of legal talent development in the Professional Lawyer

Elon Law's Founding Dean and Professor of Law Emeritus, Leary Davis, published, "Building Legal Talent: Mentors, Coaches, Preceptors and Gurus in the Legal Profession," in the 2011, Volume 20, Number 4 edition of the Professional Lawyer, a publication of the American Bar Association Center for Professional Responsibility.

Leary Davis

In the article, Davis reviews the strengths and weaknesses of a variety of law school and law firm programs aimed at enhancing the development of emerging lawyers, from traditional informal and formal mentoring programs, to coaching and preceptor programs.

“While the willingness of senior lawyers to form informal mentoring relationships with talented, compatible new lawyers works well for mentors and favored protégés, it does not necessarily serve the needs of law firms for overall talent management,” Davis writes.

“The difference between those emerging lawyers who flourish in the profession and those who languish there is in large part a function of the opportunities presented to the lawyer to observe or receive instruction about aspects of practice, to perform those aspects, to receive prompt and constructive feedback concerning the lawyer’s performance, to master the aspect, and then to repeat the process at a more complex level of practice,” Davis suggests.

A pivotal force in the establishment of the Preceptor Program at Elon Law, Davis also provides keys for good talent development in the Professional Lawyer article.

“Emerging lawyers need ‘stretch’ assignments that are challenging, but that they are capable of fulfilling with effort,” Davis writes. “While such challenges can be stressful, they do not cause burnout. Burnout comes from being limited to repetitive tasks wholly within one’s scope of existing competence, typically document review for young litigators and compliance work for transactional lawyers.”

Click here or on the E-Cast link adjacent to this story to read the article by Davis in full.

The Professional Lawyer is one of the oldest publications in the nation dedicated solely to the examination of professional responsibility in the legal profession.

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