4 Articles You Need to Read

I’ve found some interesting articles to share with you this week.

  1. How One Company Worked to Root Out Bias from Performance Reviews An audit of performance reviews in a midsized law firm revealed four patterns of racial and gender bias. The authors proposed changes to the evaluation form (breaking job responsibilities into competencies and requesting that each rating be backed by three pieces of evidence) and required those completing the forms to attend a one-hour workshop to learn how to use the form. The result: “people of color and women got more constructive feedback, and the playing field was leveled for everyone: Whereas white men had longer, more complex evaluations in year one, in year two, both word count and language complexity were similar across all groups.” 
  2. Gaining the Power of Metrics Means Looking At More than Just Legal Spend This article addresses the use of data not just to manage legal costs but also to identify and avoid issues that might arise for your clients. This approach also speaks to creating additional value for your clients. Depending on your clientele and practice setting, “data” and “metrics” may feel out of reach for you, but the lessons adhere equally when it comes to studying trends among your clients, in their industry, and in the law as it relates to their interests.
  3. The skills new lawyers need right away The Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System published a report of the skills necessary for a new lawyer’s success in practice based on a survey of over 24,000 American attorneys. The survey responses identified the skills necessary for short-term success, necessary for long-term success, not necessary but advantageous, or not relevant to success. The results are fascinating, but my eye was drawn to the responses in “Business Development and Relations.”While “generate new business” was deemed necessary by 63.3% of respondents and advantageous by an additional 14.4%, “engage in appropriate marketing or fundraising” was deemed necessary by only 43.8% of respondents, advantageous by another 31.4%, and not relevant by the remaining 24.8%. While it’s likely that these responses are skewed somewhat by in-house counsel respondents who are not responsible for generating new business, the disparity makes me wonder what we’re teaching new lawyers and what the “we” represented by these survey respondents believe about our own business development skills. Check out all the business development skill ratings here.
  4. Make yourself important! Mark Herrmann’s column in Above the Law is always a favorite, and the column responding to Business Development Gripes does not disappoint. It’s all useful (especially for lawyers concerned about competing with colleagues who have better credentials), but this comment hits home: “And, of course, you could always make yourself important by speaking and writing and developing a reputation. I admit that’s hard, but wallowing in self-pity ain’t a barrel of laughs, either.”

Happy reading!

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