When hiring associates, the Davis Brown Law Firm looks for individuals who have excellent personal and academic credentials and the creativity, integrity, and motivation to become outstanding members of the firm and the Greater Des Moines community.
Mentorship and Training
Each new associate is assigned a shareholder-mentor who serves as an informal sounding board and a formal advisor. Throughout their tenure, associates are given regular, informal feedback from the members of the firm as well as their mentor. In addition, the firm formally evaluates each associate annually to monitor progress and to focus on practice development. Newer associates are formally evaluated bi-annually.
Davis Brown is dedicated to providing significant associate training opportunities. The firm assists with the cost of attending local and national continuing legal education programs, and shareholders often provide on-site training. Recent Litigation Division and Business Division meetings featured presentations on business development practices, insurance regulation, utilization of jury selection services, client development, technology for trial attorneys, and strategies for working with in-house counsel.
Path to Shareholder
Associates are eligible for consideration for the position of shareholder after six full calendar years. It is our hope that every associate will develop the skills and qualities necessary to attain a position as a firm shareholder. To accomplish that goal, associates are provided a collegial working environment emphasizing open communication. By encouraging open communication and providing significant training opportunities and challenging work, the firm is able to allow associates to assume extensive responsibility for client matters quickly.
Here are a few recent projects first and second year associates have had the opportunity to handle:
- Helped secure an $800,000 investment and $3.3 million loan for a historical building rehabilitation projected to yield $1.1 million in federal and state historic tax credits
- Helped with the $4 million sale of a technology company's assets
- Assisted with selling $54 million of units in an Iowa partnership and holding company
- Assisted with briefing a case that went to the Iowa Court of Appeals and assisted in resisting the Application for Further Review at the Iowa Supreme Court
- Second chaired a jury trial and obtained a judgment for our client. The associate wrote the trial brief, jury instructions, motions in limine, and witness and exhibit lists, engaged in witness preparation, discovery, trial strategy, and trial witness examination.
- Prepared a motion for summary judgment resulting in a negligence claim against the client being dismissed
- Handled a family law contempt trial and was awarded a successful verdict including ten counts of contempt, attorney fees, and expert witness fees
- Participated in family law mediations and achieved resolutions in accordance with the client's wishes
- Drafted trial brief and second chaired trial to court
- Successfully defended and mediated an unfair housing case
A prime example of the open lines of communication is in the firm's governing structure. Davis Brown is a professional corporation governed by a board of directors. An associate representative, elected by the associates, attends board meetings and serves as a liaison between the board and the associate group. The associates also elect a representative to be a member of the Professional Personnel Committee. Associates also have access to a significant portion of firm information and are included in the annual strategic planning retreat.
The firm has and continues to invest in technologies to assist attorneys with the efficient delivery of quality legal services, including the deployment of advanced document database and electronic document systems, on-line research systems and state-of-the-art communication tools. Incoming attorneys receive personal laptop computers along with a docking station at their desks and have access to firm IT personnel for ongoing education and support.
Associate compensation compares favorably with other attorneys in Des Moines and the state of Iowa. Davis Brown also provides associates health insurance, life insurance, long-term disability insurance, and retirement plans. In accordance with established policies, procedures, and limitations, the firm reimburses associates for bar exam fees, bar dues, continuing legal education fees, client development expenses, and other approved work-related expenses.
The firm recognizes the importance of a well-rounded life. First-year associates are required to bill 1825 hours, and associates in their second through sixth years are required to bill 1850 hours. During an associate's first two years with the firm, they can receive credit for up to 50 hours spent in approved training endeavors, either internally or externally. Associates can also receive hours credit for firm related marketing endeavors and pro bono projects, reducing required client hours.