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As They Navigate the Pandemic, Midlevel Associates Say Law Firm Transparency Is Paramount

The American Lawyer

The coronavirus pandemic has given law firms an opportunity to demonstrate transparency and accountability from the top down, and Big Law associates feel their firms’ management teams have risen to the occasion.

Early-career attorneys are increasingly satisfied with the openness of firm leadership, how firms communicate about making the partnership, and the opportunity to build relationships with partners, according to The American Lawyer’s 2020 Midlevel Associates Survey


The Power of Transparency

Months into the coronavirus pandemic, in which the legal industry has largely shifted to remote work, associates who have looked to firm management for guidance have been satisfied with the increased emphasis on transparency.

At Blank Rome, which ranked second in this year’s survey, increased transparency also plays out in the form of constant communication between Grant Palmer, the firm’s managing partner and CEO, and the associates committee.

“All existing concerns faced by associates have been amplified during the pandemic, and one of the big things we’ve dealt with as associates is feeling a real sense of uncertainty along with a real desire for transparency,” Kierstan Carlson, the committee’s chair, says. “Multiple times per month, we have 1-to-1 dialogue with the managing partner that includes information we’ve gathered through polling our associates. We meet with [Palmer], we tell him what’s going on, and then after any issues are raised, they’re addressed by him in a town hall meeting.”

Ori Portnoy, Blank Rome’s chief legal talent officer, says the firm’s culture has always focused on management openness and building relationships at all levels. But there has been an increased sense of urgency in recent months for the firm to be as transparent as possible.

“It’s a big part of our top-down culture that we want to not only hear from associates and have them be open with management, but that management is also responding and addressing issues as they happen,” Portnoy says. “Sharing financial information firmwide is especially important now, and we want to foster an environment where we’re all in everything together. Since the pandemic began, management has kicked transparency into high gear.”

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“As They Navigate the Pandemic, Midlevel Associates Say Law Firm Transparency Is Paramount,” by Samantha Stokes was published in The American Lawyer on August 24, 2020.