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Professional Development

Wheeler Trigg O'Donnell hires associates with good academic records and innate ability who want to go to trial – as soon and as often as possible.  Then, we train these associates to become highly skilled advocates and essential members of this firm and their chosen profession.

At WTO, the primary component of our professional development program is hands-on experience.  During your first few years of practice, you will be expected to:

  • Take and defend depositions
  • Examine witnesses at trial
  • Represent clients in arbitration and mediation proceedings
  • Draft motions and argue them in court
  • Meet with corporate counsel clients from Fortune 500 companies to help develop effective litigation strategies

At each stage of your progression through the range of trial skills and experience, you will be carefully mentored because we want you to succeed.  Our high partner-to-associate ratio means that you will benefit from working closely with a "trial-tested" senior attorney in virtually all of your cases.

You also will be mentored by an associate who has been with the firm for a while, who will help you with the day-to-day aspects of associate life.

When you arrive at WTO, you will receive a basic administrative orientation and you will be trained on the firm's hardware, software, and electronic systems for both on-site and remote access.  WTO attorneys spend time on the road, and are therefore supplied with laptops and mobile phones.  You also will be shown how to navigate essential legal applications like ProLaw, Summation, WorkSite, and Trial Director.

You will participate in WTO's formal associate training program which includes workshops with the firm's senior partners and trial presentation consultants regarding:

  • Legal ethics and professionalism
  • Working and communicating effectively with partners, clients, other counsel, and the courts
  • Effective legal writing
  • Practice development
  • Case strategy
  • Depositions
  • Voir dire
  • Opening statement
  • Expert witnesses
  • Direct and cross examination
  • Motions practice
  • Closing argument

Throughout the year, the firm also offers presentations by invited speakers on a range of topics important to our practice and our profession.  All WTO attorneys are invited to attend. 

All associates are encouraged to take a partner to lunch at the firm's expense to informally share ideas about trial practice and career development. 

Each fall, all lawyers attend an off-site weekend retreat that features a state-of-the-firm presentation, interactive discussion, and a social agenda for you and your guest.

To help you maximize your personal presentation and courtroom advocacy skills, WTO retains and makes available to all attorneys intensive, one-on-one coaching provided by Courtroom Performance, Inc., a nationally-recognized trial consulting firm.  WTO encourages its associates to make frequent use of Courtroom Performance's expertise.

Each WTO attorney receives an annual budget that can be used for outside professional development expenses.  The firm strongly encourages each associate to attend the highly regarded two-week trial practice course offered by the National Institute for Trial Advocacy.

The firm pays for the cost of preparing for and taking the Colorado bar exam, and for membership in the Denver Bar Association, Colorado Bar Association, and the Colorado Defense Lawyers Association – all of which offer valuable professional development programs.

In summary, our professional development program – from orientation through partnership – is intended to provide you with every opportunity to transform your intelligence and innate talent into a focused end result – a highly skilled and professionally satisfied trial attorney.

For more information about WTO's professional development program, email Please address correspondence to Kasey Fenn, Attorney Recruiting & Development Manager.