Hiring New Associates
Q: What criteria do you look for in hiring new associates?
A: While most of our new associates have participated in our summer program, we occasionally interview and hire third year law students and recent graduates (including post-judicial clerks) based on firmwide and practice area need. We seek well-rounded and highly motivated individuals with excellent interpersonal skills, strong academic achievement and the desire to work in a team environment. Currently, we are not seeking to hire additional entry level associates.
Q: What is the starting salary for new associates?
A: Currently the starting salary for entry level associates in Tennessee is $120,000.
Q: Does Bass, Berry & Sims pay for bar admission expenses?
A: We reimburse for certain expenses related to taking the bar exam and becoming licensed to practice in the jurisdictions in which our offices are located.
Q: Does the firm pay relocation costs for new associates?
A: The firm pays for certain pre-approved costs related to your relocation, which our Recruiting department will discuss in detail.
Q: Do associates receive credit for judicial clerkships?
A: The firm will provide a $10,000 bonus and give credit for both compensation and seniority purposes to associates joining our firm directly from a federal court clerkship.
Q: How are new associates integrated into Bass, Berry & Sims?
A: At the start of employment, new associates are provided with an orientation program that introduces them to firm systems and resources. To assist in making our new associates' entry into our firm as seamless as possible, this orientation covers technology, support resources, processes and procedures. The orientation process, held in our Nashville office, allows new associates to meet others in the many practice areas of our firm as well as hear from several of our managers regarding firm practices in client relations, legal research and records management.
Q: How do new associates receive assignments?
A: Due to the varying types of clients represented and the nature of practice management, each practice area has its own approach to the allocation of assignments to its associates. However, the overall goal in our firm is the same - to provide each associate the opportunity to gain a wide range of experience and the chance to work with a variety of attorneys. We also encourage our associates to take initiative and to assume as much responsibility as they can handle without the expectation that junior associates will need to develop a practice of their own until later in their career. Bass, Berry & Sims maintains an "open-door" policy, encouraging interaction among all attorneys. By working directly with partners, our associates learn from experienced practitioners and see how they interact with clients and tackle issues.
Q: Will I be assigned a mentor?
A: All new associates are assigned a supervising attorney who is responsible for overseeing his or her work allocation and professional development. An associate mentor is also assigned to aid in familiarizing the new associate to both our firm and his or her designated practice area. Beyond this process, we find that frequently the most valuable mentoring relationships develop informally through shared work experiences and interests.
Q: What kind of training is provided to new associates at Bass, Berry & Sims?
A: Our firm is dedicated to the career progression of our associates and has instituted a firmwide Professional Development program to enhance the learning process for our associates and professional staff. Through sessions geared toward developing skills such as Public Speaking, Legal Writing, Counseling Clients and Creating a Professional Development Plan, associates learn valuable skills that translate into their daily practice and client service. On the practice-area level, specific topics are introduced through lunch sessions that cater to the nature of each practice area. Our most invaluable faculty in the Professional Development program, however, is our partners. Associates find that by working closely with partners and other attorneys, they acquire invaluable expertise in their practice area. Outside of our firm, formal CLE training opportunities are encouraged in order to fulfill mandatory state bar requirements and expenses for attending seminars are reimbursed by our firm.
Q: How does the review/evaluation process work?
A: Our firm's Associate Evaluation Committee monitors and conducts our annual evaluation process by soliciting feedback on an individual associate from those attorneys with whom he or she has worked over the year. Associates are evaluated on criteria such as ethical judgment, intellectual and analytical skills, client service and interpersonal skills. The associate completes a self-evaluation that is considered a key component to the feedback process in order to identify projects on which he or she has worked as well as goals and thoughts for improvement over the next evaluation year. The review session with the associate's supervising attorney and another partner within the practice area provides the associate with a candid and objective appraisal of his or her career progression based on the comments received. Beyond the formal process, partners and senior attorneys with whom the associate works are encouraged to provide ongoing, informal feedback on the projects on which the associate works as an integral part of his or her development.
Q: Are there billable hour requirements?
A: Yes; however, our firm believes that the significance of our attorneys' work should not be viewed by hours alone. In order to qualify for the annual hours bonus, new associates are expected to reach a minimum range of 1850-2050 billable hours as well as 50 non-billable hours. There are no expectations that new associates should bill at this rate for the first three months following their arrival.
Bass, Berry & Sims PLC is an Equal Opportunity Employer.