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“The One with the Couch: What do Ross, Rachel, Chandler and PD professionals have in common?”

February 16, 2022

By Stacey Schwartz, Professional Development and Legal Recruiting Manager at Katten

Surely the vast majority of us have seen at least one episode of Friends. One of the episodes that makes me laugh the hardest includes the iconic scene where Ross buys a new couch and decides to carry it up to his apartment instead of paying a delivery fee. With the help of Rachel and Chandler, Ross tries to navigate the couch up the stairs, shouting “P-I-V-O-T!” frantically, as the three of them struggle to maneuver the couch. Unable to get the couch around the corner, they ultimately decide to cut it in half. 

What would it have taken for Ross, Rachel and Chandler to succeed? Interestingly, someone took the time to figure this out. The Daily Mail reported that Data Science Consultant Caroline Zunckel ran 10,000 simulations based on different measurements of the stairwell and couch, and found the sofa only needed to be tilted upwards to move around the corner.

Like Ross, Rachel and Chandler, business professionals tasked with training and development in every industry have been required to pivot. In the face of Zoom fatigue, burnout and other challenges, we have had to find new ways to engage our attorneys to meet their developmental needs and career goals.

One approach we have tried with some success at our firm is to introduce more opportunities for choice into our offerings.  As an example, we have added more options to our Mentor Program.  Our Mentoring Menu includes a variety of ways for associates 2nd year and above and junior partners to receive mentorship (1st year and lateral associates are assigned mentors). They might connect over lunch or coffee for a Mentoring MeetUp with a senior associate or partner on a particular topic; join a Learning Circle for group mentoring with peers; and/or they are welcome to be paired with a formal mentor at their request.  We have received positive feedback on this “menu” approach and have observed a great deal of connection and mentorship virtually and, when possible, in person.

We have also created more options in our targeted offerings.  A recent Elevator Pitch program for new partners, for example, offered a series of three Zoom Elevator Pitch Sessions where new partners could share what they do and when to call them with their fellow partners.  A core feature of this program was the four different ways that the partners could receive coaching and tips on elevating their Zoom presence from executive communication coach Sarah Gershman of Greenroom Speakers. They could watch a customized video where Sarah shared best practices in advance of the sessions; sign up for 1:1 coaching with Sarah to prepare for their pitch; hear general feedback and tips from Sarah during each session; and/or meet with Sarah after their elevator pitch to receive personalized feedback.  Partners appreciated the flexibility of the program and it earned rave reviews from those eager to improve their communication skills.

Offering choice can be a way to increase engagement, but that’s just one piece of the developmental puzzle.  During these times, creating and delivering engaging offerings can feel as difficult as trying to cram an 8 foot sofa up a narrow staircase.

Fortunately, we have the PDC network to help one another to pivot.  If only the solution were as simple as tilting the sofa upwards.