In a Q&A with Law360, Chief Talent Officer Melanie Priddy discussed the genesis and value of Katten's Shadowing Program, which is the firm's new apprentice-style program that provides junior associates with professional development opportunities outside billable work and formal training programs.

"We are always looking for innovative ways to provide our associates with real-time professional development training and engagement experiences with our attorneys, especially given the hybrid work environment we are all in now," Melanie told Law360, underscoring the firm's focus on fostering both virtual and in-person connections. "We heard from partners that years ago, they were allowed to tag along with more senior attorneys and offered an apprentice-style on-the-job training opportunity, which 20 years ago, there was less of an opportunity cost associated with it. We wanted to recreate this type of environment here at the firm."

Under the program, first-year through third-year associates may earn bonus-eligible hours for shadowing partners and senior associates during activities such as client calls, discovery and court proceedings, negotiations and meetings. Melanie explained that the program purposefully targets younger associates to ensure they are exposed to real-life and real-time experiences. She further highlighted that the program offers senior attorneys the opportunity to mentor and guide their colleagues without any additional cost to clients, and in turn, the younger associates receive billable credit.

"So it seems like it's a win-win on both sides," Melanie noted.

Regarding Katten's reasoning for setting up shadowing opportunities combined with billable credit, Melanie emphasized that the firm appreciates that associates are under pressure to meet their annual billable target. "We wanted there to be a zero-sum game in thinking about an opportunity like this versus an opportunity that provided billable credit," she said, noting that associates will calculate how non-billable opportunities may impede their billable hour goals. "So, this was a way to remove that consideration from the calculation and provide great opportunities for associates to shadow senior attorneys in an apprentice-style, because that is often how people learn best – by witnessing what other people are doing or being present in a room and conversations are happening."

Asked about Katten's approach to attracting and retaining young talent, Melanie pointed to several of the firm's initiatives to provide associates a wide breadth of opportunities to develop professional and business development skills. Through a range of resources – including the firm's Shadowing Program, Kattalyst sponsorship program, various skills training programs, career coaching and more – Katten has long supported the professional growth and career advancement of its attorneys.

"It's all part of a suite of talent development opportunities we provide to our attorneys, aimed at attracting and retaining talent while ensuring they have the skill sets to advance and be successful here at the firm," she said.

"Why Katten Introduced Job-Shadowing Credits for Associates," Law360, April 19, 2023

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