Talent director reflects on creating company culture during Covid


It’s been just over a year since I started as Director of Legal Talent at Troutman Pepper, a national law firm with over 1,200 lawyers. As I reflect on the past 12 months, I have made a few observations and insights that I have gained that may be useful to those tasked with helping achieve business goals through risk management strategies. successful talents.

Create connection opportunities

Creating a culture of collaboration has been a particularly important goal for our firm, the product of the merger of two midsize companies (Troutman Sanders and Pepper Hamilton) during a global pandemic. Working in a hybrid environment can create a sense of isolation that can make work feel like a strictly transactional activity.

It can also get in the way of efforts to nurture a collaborative culture or recognize everyone’s impact on business success. If people don’t feel connected and part of their team or the company, it’s easier for them to leave.

In the wake of the pandemic, the newly merged Troutman Pepper had to get creative quickly to connect people and teams, without the benefits of in-person meetings, to ensure seamless collaboration to provide continued excellent service to our clients. This creativity, born out of necessity, has had a lasting impact on how we foster relationships as we continue to navigate a hybrid work environment.

It’s critical that retention efforts consistently show employees that their employer is investing in them in a way that impacts their day-to-day work life.

At Troutman Pepper, we’ve recognized that empowering employees to work remotely, while creating opportunities to connect no matter where they work, is key to building trust and helping people feel empowered to choose what works best for them and their teams.

Create training and career development opportunities

Today, associates are much more vocal about their likes and dislikes and need feedback and clear direction. These associates are part of the “social media generation” where opinions are expected (and easier to give or receive).

Associates expect company leaders and those with whom they work on a regular basis to be interested in and act on their suggestions and feedback. They also want unbiased feedback and constructive criticism of their work to better understand where they are in their career development and what skills and qualities they need to improve.

To ensure our associates receive comprehensive career insights, we recently launched an individualized professional development program called Troutman Pepper YOUniversity. Combining both internal and external resources, the program offers a holistic approach to training and development by aligning feedback, training, coaching/mentoring and expectations to empower and better support employees in their development.

The program connects people and resources, and in a company our size, especially in an ongoing hybrid work environment, it is critical to our associates’ job satisfaction that these connections are made intentionally. The program also allows us to keep people connected and to communicate across practices and offices, enabling individual, business and client outcome success.

Traditions and Innovation Gateway

More than ever, we need a bridge between tradition and innovation. Some associates may not remember a time when they didn’t have a cell phone to call, text or email and the ability to work from anywhere.

They certainly don’t remember when pagers were all the rage and fax machines were first accepted as an official form of legal service. I won’t date myself by saying which band I most identify with (I may have had a Rolodex), but I do understand the need to bridge these disconnects.

To do this, we have recruited some of our semi-retired and veteran lawyers to mentor and coach associates seeking to improve a certain skill, such as legal writing, or to present a convincing oral argument. Associates can sign up for a coaching session to gain valuable perspective and feedback on past work or prepare for upcoming assignments (with plenty of prep time in advance).

This 1:1 time is mutually beneficial as associates receive feedback specific to them, while seasoned attorneys gain new insights into what associates find compelling and leverage technology to make connections more effective and efficient.

We’ve also leveraged technology to deliver training content in new ways. Instead of the traditional approaches of creating PowerPoint slides with lots of text and limited visuals, we have implemented polling features and breakout rooms to encourage discussion in small groups at appropriate times in the programs. training.

These interactive methods are small adjustments to traditional training models to keep associates engaged with the material in a way that promotes better learning outcomes. We have also created leadership roles through our Associate Liaison Committee to gather feedback on Associate-focused initiatives to ensure we are meeting the needs of Associates and developing stronger connections between partners, associates and officers of the firm.

To look forward

It is a difficult time for those of us who work in the field of law, but I have also found the past year energizing and encouraging.

We’ve had to be creative and collaborative to build a sense of community that isn’t centered around everyone being in the office. By working with and supporting each other, while embracing new ways of working, we can all thrive and succeed, even when we don’t always know what lies ahead.

This article does not necessarily reflect the views of the Bureau of National Affairs, Inc., publisher of Bloomberg Law and Bloomberg Tax, or its owners.

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Author Information

sona spencer is the Director of Legal Talent at Troutman Pepper, where she cultivates strong relationships with clients, colleagues and business partners. She uses practice management, people management, and client development strategies to provide valuable insights and develop strategic initiatives to generate revenue and help organizations achieve their goals.


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