The Professional Development Team dedicates itself to ensuring that employees have opportunities to grow professionally throughout their careers. To achieve that goal, we work collaboratively with divisions throughout the Law Department to create a comprehensive education program. The goal of the program is to assist you master your subject matter and enhance your legal skills, so that you can professionally manage the unparalleled level of responsibility that you will have for the matters assigned to you almost immediately upon beginning your career here. To quickly get you to the level at which you need to be in order to represent the City of New York with excellence, the Professional Development team prioritizes programming and career development resources that supplement and support hands-on learning which you will receive in your assigned division.
From your first day as an Assistant Corporation Counsels (ACCs) you will learn about Law Department values and how they can be implemented in the work you do. The pursuit of Justice is a core Law Department value, and it is considered in all decisions about Professional Development program content and delivery. Indeed, all development opportunities focus on, and incorporate, the Law Department’s values of Dedication, Diversity and Inclusion, Excellence, Integrity, Justice, Respect, Supportive Work Environment, and Teamwork.
To ensure that all entry-class ACCs can hit the ground running, they are welcomed in an intensive orientation program, during which they learn the fundamentals of being an engaged government lawyer. The curriculum begins with the most essential courses -- Attorney Ethics, City Conflict of Interest Rules, and the NYC Equal Employment Opportunity Law and Rules. Hands-on deposition and litigation trainings, as well as interactive skills trainings in negotiation and mediation are provided. Also within their first years, litigating attorneys can participate in an intensive, full-week trial advocacy program. These programs complement division-specific trainings which cover the essentials of a division’s practice.
For more senior lawyers, the office hosts Continuing Legal Education (CLE) courses delivered by experts from within and outside the Law Department. Partnerships with other CLE providers, such as the Practicing Law Institute and the New York City Bar, enable our attorneys to learn and share information with leaders in the profession. Access to these courses enables our ACCs to meet their CLE requirements, while also increasing their legal knowledge.
Career Development & Coaching
As part of our career development program, we have a formal evaluation process. But most importantly, we train and encourage supervising attorneys to deliver informal feedback to those with whom they work on a regular basis. Attorneys receive a written evaluation once a year, and have a scheduled mid-year meeting with their supervisors to discuss progress and development goals. Each legal division has established objective benchmarks for lawyers to understand their expected professional progression, and we encourage attorneys to assess themselves against those benchmarks by completing self-evaluations. In addition, each division has designated Coaches, who together with the Professional Development Team, offer support for each individual’s development.
Management and Supervisory Skills
Professional Development plans, supports, and coordinates a number of programs designed to enhance the management and supervisory skills of Law Department members. The office provides training for new supervisors on delegation and feedback skills, and coordinates more extensive programs for senior managers. For example, we coordinated an initiative called the Deputy Chief Retreat, during which Deputies shadowed other leaders in the office, self-assessed their leadership skills, chose co-workers to complete online assessments of their skills, and participated in projects which added value to the office and enhanced the Deputies’ leadership skills. On request, we facilitate team development processes, where we encourage groups to examine strategically how the division or unit can more effectively achieve its goals. Professional Development also facilitates participation in the Management and Executive Development programs offered on a citywide basis through the Department of Citywide Administrative Services.
Diversity and Inclusion Training
In collaboration with the EEO Officer and the Diversity Committee, Professional Development design and implement programs to encourage a more inclusive workplace for all Law Department colleagues. In the programs, employees engage in dialogues about how to make our work environment a place where everyone is respected and included. Discussion around implicit bias, and how to interrupt the biases we all develop unconsciously, is ongoing. And to meet the New York State Office of Court Administration’s new requirement for all experienced lawyers to earn at least 1 CLE credit in Diversity, Inclusion and the Elimination of Bias, Professional Development is developing programs to meet this new State mandate, the adoption of which the office wholeheartedly supported.