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This case study delves into how an Am Law 100 firm tackled the challenge of high associate attrition rates by implementing a strategic initiative to refine its performance management system. By recognizing the diverse career aspirations of its associate population and aiming to optimize performance, the firm partnered with Calibrate to revamp its approach to talent development.

The Challenge

The firm was concerned about the increasing attrition rate among associates, which was attributed to a perceived lack of clarity on career progression and growth opportunities. An internal survey revealed dissatisfaction with the existing performance management system. The firm aimed to address this challenge while also enhancing its ability to attract top talent by creating a best-in-class performance management program.


Calibrate’s Solution

In partnership with the firm’s Talent team, Calibrate guided the firm through a structured approach to refine their performance management process. Steps included:   

  • Assessment of Current Career Framework: Conducted focus groups, interviews, and surveys to gather feedback from associates, partners, and firm leaders, gaining insights into the shortcomings of the existing system.  
  • Identification of Core Competencies: Collaborated with key stakeholders to identify essential areas for success at each associate level, refining core competencies such as firm knowledge, legal practice excellence, leadership & management, and client experience. 
  • Development of Career Progression Levels: Defined three distinct associate career progression levels – Junior, Mid-Level, Senior – with clear guidelines and criteria for associate progression and promotability based on core competencies. 
  • Alignment with Associate Performance Management: Aligned the firm’s performance management process with the enhanced career framework, enhancing training programs and elevating skill expectations through partnership with firm leaders. 
  • Implementation Support: Facilitated seamless implementation and adoption of the career framework through comprehensive training sessions for associates and key stakeholders, empowering them to utilize the tool effectively and fostering informed decision-making in career progression. 

The Result

The refined associate career framework led to increased engagement, improved attrition rates, and the establishment of a robust feedback culture within the firm. By providing clear expectations and a roadmap for career advancement, the firm positioned itself for sustained growth and excellence. The success of this initiative highlights the value of career frameworks in identifying and developing future leaders while articulating transparent expectations for associate talent. 

Let’s Connect

To learn more about how Calibrate can help your firm develop a career framework that supports both performance management and professional development please reach out to Haley Revel, Managing Director of HR & Talent Management at Calibrate.