Professional Development

Professional Development

Our legal talent is our greatest resource. We manage it with an understanding of the crucial link between exceptional lawyers and the exceptional client service that differentiates our firm. We make talent development a strategic priority that encompasses areas once considered separate and distinct, such as summer associate recruiting, continuing legal education, and compensation.

  • Integration

    No Lawyer Is an Island 

    New lawyers at all levels quickly learn that we’ve earned our reputation as a collegial, supportive firm that is committed to their success. Those who join us enjoy numerous opportunities to develop business through effective collaboration with firmwide colleagues and complementary practice groups, clients, and our communities. 

    While much of the integration process is informal, we leave nothing to chance. Innovative training programs help speed the process. Successful integration is a team effort that benefits our lawyers, and our clients. 

  • Mentoring

    Experience is among the best teachers. That’s why we offer our lawyers numerous opportunities to benefit from lessons learned by more senior colleagues through mentorship, a vital component of our talent development program.

    These key initiatives help our lawyers maximize the hard-won wisdom of practitioners who have mastered many of the challenges they will face: 


    • Associate Mentoring Program: Every first-year and new lateral associate is matched with an associate ambassador for their first six months at the firm. The ambassador is typically in the same office and practice group, and is available to answer questions, provide career guidance, and assure a smooth transition into the firm. After three months, each new associate is given an opportunity to select a shareholder mentor. Once paired with their selections, the mentees and mentors are encouraged to meet regularly, with mentors offering feedback and professional insights, and discussing professional development goals and objectives with their mentees. Mentors are also invited to participate in their mentees' annual performance evaluation. Associates may select different mentors at any time as their needs change. 


    • Summer Associate Mentoring Program: Each summer associate is paired with a shareholder mentor, an associate mentor, and a “reader” who reviews all written projects.

    Additional, informal opportunities for mentorship are numerous and include involvement in one of the firm’s active business resource groups (LGBTQ+ Alliance, Minority Alliance, and Women's Alliance) as well as participation in a range of innovative community programs.

  • Feedback, Coaching, and Networking


    At every stage in our careers, we continually strive to improve and develop as attorneys. Ongoing feedback is critical to this process. Assessing our progress toward our professional goals isn’t a mere formality, or an exercise limited to junior attorneys. 

    Through the following processes and initiatives, we take every opportunity to grow in ways that maximize the service we provide our clients. 

    Annual Associate Review 
    Throughout this comprehensive, formal process, which involves feedback from almost every shareholder and senior lawyer in the firm, associates receive concrete career guidance. Practice group leaders, shareholders, and the director of legal talent management collaborate for several months to review each associate’s performance fully and provide written feedback, which is subsequently discussed during the associate review meeting. At this meeting, the practice group leader, the associate’s mentor, and the associate discuss the associate’s performance, goals, and career development recommendations.

    Informal Associate Feedback
    Supervising attorneys, mentors, and colleagues give associates significant day-to-day guidance and feedback in their practice areas. Associates also participate in quarterly review meetings with their practice group leaders to discuss their interim achievements, experiences, and goals.

    Shareholder/Of Counsel Feedback
    Shareholders and of counsel attorneys complete annual self-evaluations and business development plans. The firm’s CEO meets with each new shareholder and of counsel attorney to discuss their evaluations and plans. Established shareholders and of counsel may also request a meeting with the CEO to discuss year-end professional development issues.

    Practice Group Leaders
    Each practice group leader conducts an annual self-evaluation that covers strategic leadership, talent development, productivity, diversity, and teamwork. Practice group members also anonymously evaluate their practice group leaders in these areas. 

    Coaching and Networking

    Success as an attorney cannot be left to chance. As the following extensive and varied list of coaching and networking programs demonstrates, we work hard to ensure our attorneys maximize every opportunity for professional growth.

    Associate Counseling and Coaching Sessions

    The firm’s director of legal talent management is available for individual associate counseling and coaching sessions, which are informed by her active participation in monthly meetings of the Associate Relations Committee, and annual meetings of the Associate Compensation and Review Committee.

    One-on-One 'Next Level' Shareholder Coaching

    Selected shareholders pair with outside coaches or the firm’s chief marketing officer for one-on-one sessions to develop and effectively implement their customized business development plan. The program has included several group training sessions.

    Practice Group Leader Guidance

    Practice group leaders play an active role in the professional development of their groups’ attorneys. They help steer career development and offer guidance on strategic leadership activities within bar, professional, and civic organizations.

    Minority Alliance

    The Minority Alliance offers the firm’s minority lawyers professional development opportunities through mentoring and educational seminars. It also identifies outside organizations that provide additional career development and networking opportunities.

    Women's Alliance

    The Women's Alliance provides a forum for communication among women attorneys and promotes their career advancement through educational and networking events.

    LGBTQ+ Alliance

    The LGBTQ+ Alliance hosts events that help advance LGBTQ+ equality, while providing networking opportunities and a support structure for the firm’s LGBTQ+ employees.

  • Training

    Training: Our Wisest Investment 

    The best lawyers are always learning. From summer associate orientation to career development programs for shareholders, ours receive ongoing, innovative training that addresses every facet of the practice of law and life at Carlton Fields. Only by prioritizing the development of our legal talent can we provide the exceptional client service and value that distinguishes us. 

    Our offerings and programs, highlighted below, continually evolve to meet the needs of our lawyers as they advance in their careers: 

    • Summer Associate Orientation and Training
    • New Associate Orientation and Training
    • Associate Career Development Programs 
    • New Shareholder Career Development Program 

    Additional, ongoing training opportunities, highlighted below, give all of our attorneys the tools to thrive: 

    • Substantive, Practice Area Training 
    • Practice Skills Training 
    • Marketing and Business Development Training 
    • Diversity Awareness Training

    Next Level Coaching 

    Lawyers at the top of their game — and those seeking to get there — continually strive to improve. We help both homegrown and lateral shareholders and of counsel across practice areas maximize their potential through an intensive coaching program designed to boost business development skills. 

    Program Highlights

    • Work with outside coaching consultants and firm's chief marketing officer and business development managers
    • Monthly one-on-one coaching sessions, plus periodic group meetings 
    • 15-20 shareholders and of counsel participate annually 
    • Two-year program 
    • Metrics and accountability provided 

    Associate Kick Start Group Coaching Program

    High-potential senior associates looking to sharpen their client service, networking, and marketing skills are selected to participate in this six-month small group coaching program designed to provide a “kick start” introduction to the basics of business development.

    In addition to developing their personal business development plan, the participants attend monthly trainings on topics including building relationships, exceptional client service, and credentialing.

Naila Townes Ahmed

Naila Townes Ahmed

Director of Legal Talent Management
Anne B. Zambrano

Anne B. Zambrano

Director of Marketing & Business Development


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