Mentoring and Feedback

Mentoring and training are core values for our firm. Part of our mission—and our long-term business strategy—is to help build the careers of the next generation through mentoring, collaboration, and training.

We honor the legacy of our senior colleagues and alumni, and our deep roots in the client base we serve, by investing in emerging talent, sharing skills and wisdom, and supporting the health and wellness of our team members.

Formal Mentoring Programs Offer Structure and Feedback Opportunities

From First Year Guides to Lateral Links to the Associate Career Development Committee, we have put in place formal structures for mentoring and feedback at every stage of your career with Wilson Sonsini. And with our robust and loyal alumni network, that mentoring and support often extend beyond your time with the firm.

Mentoring for New Associates

No matter what level you are, as soon as you arrive at the firm as an associate, you are paired with a mentor.

These are your “First Year Guides,” who are paired with new associates based on what school you went to, outside interests, or participation in an affinity group. Your First Year Guide is there to help you get settled and give you a friendly face for the inevitable questions or surprises that may come up. 

For experienced attorneys, when you join the firm we set you up with a Lateral Link. Lateral Links are attorney guides who help you navigate the ins and outs of our culture and integrate into your practice group and the firm.

Also, many of the departments assign partner advisors to help ensure that associates are building the appropriate skill sets at different stages and are getting the support they need to become outstanding attorneys. 

Finally, there is no substitute for the informal mentoring that occurs on a regular basis as attorneys go about their daily tasks.

Mentoring After Your First Year

Once you’ve advanced past your first year as an associate, you can join WS Connects, a year-long, opt-in mentoring program offered to all associates. 

The program is tailored to your needs. When you sign up, you’ll indicate your preference of focus (such as career guidance, business development skills, work-life balance, etc.). You’ll be matched with a mentor that helps you identify and meet goals during the course of the program. 

The mentoring match isn’t limited to the practice or even the office where you’re based. The most important thing is that the match is productive and supportive for you, so we take into account factors such as personal goals, affinity group membership, and interests to make sure your WS Connects mentor relationship is a strong one.

Career Coaching

To help associates identify and focus on developing specific skills and knowledge, we offer one-on-one career coaching with experienced legal careers experts.

This work helps our associates receive targeted support and a faster return on their investment of time and energy to fill gaps and propel them into the next stage of their careers.

Our career coaches listen objectively, provide honest feedback, help prioritize goals, and serve as resources for information and support.

Transitioning to Partnership

Senior associates who are interested in becoming a partner receive a partner mentor to talk about the partnership process. This is combined with content at the seventh year academy that talks about the partnership process. 

View Points
Sarah (Siedlak) Walker
Technology Transactions
San Diego

Mentoring has really helped my career because ever since I started here at Wilson, I felt like I’ve had someone, someone who’s there to be on my side, someone who’s there to lean me in the right direction. Someone who’s there, who I can freely ask any questions to. 

How Associate Performance Reviews Work

Informal Feedback

The backbone of our review process is consistent, constant informal feedback. Your review—and especially your areas for development and growth—should not be a surprise. To that end, our attorneys offer real-time, project-based feedback as you work with them.

In the hustle and bustle of day-to-day legal work, it’s easy to miss important feedback from your supervisors and mentors. So we make sure there’s no confusion or surprises for you. 

Formal Reviews

Then, once a year, the Associate Career Development Committee (consisting of partners representing all offices and practice areas), oversees associate reviews to provide meaningful and constructive feedback on performance and career development. Given the varying needs and approaches of each practice, the committee serves to normalize the review process across the board.

The formal review process begins in September when each associate completes a self-assessment highlighting achievements, areas for future development, and participation in firm activities. 

The committee then obtains feedback on performance and skills development from partners and other senior attorneys.

A committee liaison and the associate’s supervising partner(s) deliver the review to communicate performance evaluations and help the associate identify future areas for legal training and career development.