Throughout the legal industry, professional development programs that help lawyers advance within their firms are nothing new. Firms appropriately focus on promotion, however, the final step of advancing into ownership or to equity partner seems to be missing from most development programs.

Womble Carlyle launched the Getting to Equity program in order to address that need. The year-long curriculum helps aspiring equity partners develop robust, sophisticated business plans, build relationships that last, and offer valuable, niche practices. Womble Carlyle’s clients are the ultimate beneficiaries, though, as the curriculum is centered on their needs and aligning the practice with clients’ goals.

 “We designed this program to fit into our overall talent development strategy,” said Lori Patton, Womble Carlyle’s Chief Learning Officer. “Attorneys need support on every rung of the career ladder, and Getting to Equity fills in a key gap to ensure they do.”

Within the context of law firm economics, the program initially focuses on how to create a personal business plan.  Attention then turns to specific business development skills that help create new client relationships and grow existing ones. All firm attorneys are invited to attend monthly Getting to Equity programs, but in addition to the broader curriculum, the program also includes small group workshops for approximately two dozen attorneys who opted for a more rigorous practicum.  Those attorneys also receive individualized coaching and feedback on their business plans, including a panel review of their business plans from firm leadership, veteran firm equity partners and professional development leaders. Participants are encouraged to seek client input as well.

“This individualized approach gives each attorney the chance to identify and pursue unique passions in their practice or area of expertise,” Patton said. “It’s about helping develop more satisfied and engaged attorneys who provide the highest level of client service.”

Here’s what some participants have to say about Getting to Equity:

   - “It is a great to work at a law firm that invests in the ‘next’ generation, and I was honored to be selected to participate in the first class.”

   - “I think the landscape has changed for lawyers in the last 10 years, not merely in how they interact with their clients but also in the expectations placed on younger lawyers.  Every lawyer practicing at a firm should now understand that developing and maintaining good client relationships is the job of everyone, not just of the senior partners. Every firm wants their lawyers to do this – Womble Carlyle is the only firm I know of teaching them how to do so.  Once I was offered a place in the program, there was no chance I’d turn down such an opportunity.”

About Womble Carlyle

Womble Carlyle is a 550-attorney law firm that corporate clients rely on to provide core legal services, such as Complex Business Litigation, Mass Torts, Intellectual Property, Corporate & Securities, Finance and Real Estate.

Our focus is the Southeast, Mid-Atlantic and Silicon Valley markets, and from this footprint, we serve clients in matters across the country and across the world. Clients trust us because we understand their businesses, focus on their successes, demonstrate a commitment to help, and deliver value for their dollars they spend on us. 

Thanks to Womble Carlyle’s partnership with Lex Mundi, the world’s largest association of independent law firms, we can offer clients access to quality-tested local counsel in more than 120 countries. Lex Mundi provides seamless access to local attorneys and market knowledge throughout the globe.

Womble Carlyle’s offices are located in: Atlanta; Charleston, Columbia and Greenville, S.C.; Charlotte, Greensboro, Raleigh, Research Triangle Park, and Winston-Salem, N.C.; Silicon Valley, Calif., Washington, D.C.; Charlottesville and Tysons Corner, Va.; Baltimore; and Wilmington, Del.