To remedy the C player problem, law firms must weed out
the potential low performers during the hiring process by
using objective talent data—not just gut decisions—that
are specific to each firm. Firms must understand both the
biographical factors (e.g., schools, grades, team sports)
and the behavioral traits (e.g., initiative, adaptability, resilience) that define a quality associate in their environment.
and the least, high- and low-performing associates and
partners for a firm over the past 10 to 20 years?
• What are the differences, if any, between lawyers
recruited through the summer program versus laterally,
or in the lawyers who stay long term versus those who
leave voluntarily or involuntarily after a short time?
• Which schools generate the most high-performing
THE COST OF A SINGLE C PLAYER
Lawyer Metrics’ research reveals the following about the cost of a single C player, as compared to an A or B player, in the
midlevel to senior associate ranks at a typical Am Law 200 firm.
• Bills ~300 hours less annually (300 hours x $350 billable rate) = $105,000 in lost billable revenue
• Estimated at 15 to 25 percent lower realization rate (300 to 500 hours x $350 billable rate) = $105,000 to $175,000
in lost billable revenue
• Takes 10 to 20 hours of additional partner hours to manage fallout ( 10 to 20 hours x $600 + billable rate x practice group
leader, supervising partner, evaluation committee chair, employment lawyer) = priceless
• Total loss in billable revenue annually: ~$210,000 to $280,000
Using much of this same data, law firms can also strategically and more quickly identify and outplace current associates who are not meeting expectations.
The talent data you need to make better predictions
about performance already exists in your firm. Every firm
has lawyers who have set the standard for success. These
are the A and B players whom firms wish to replicate
through the hiring and development processes. And, as a
critical point of comparison, every firm also has C players
whom they don’t want to clone—but that they should analyze to avoid similar mis-hires. Because these high and low
performers are already present, there is a treasure trove of
biographical and behavioral talent data right in each firm’s
backyard. This data provides the essential tools
that firms need to cull the likely low performers from the hiring process and the current (or
soon-to-be) C players during annual reviews.
• What are the specific biographical factors—such as grades,
foreign languages, prelaw work or clerkships—that a
firm’s current and departed high- and low-performing
associates and partners have in common?
• How do the biographical factors of the high- and low-performing associates and partners differ by hiring
source (summer associate versus lateral), office, practice
group or other demographics?
The findings uncovered by a biographical data analysis provide essential screening information that a firm
needs to effectively sift through the thousands of résumés
received through on-campus interviews, write-ins and job
SO, WHAT TALENT DATA DOES
THE FIRM NEED? AND HOW CAN
IT BE USED EFFECTIVELY?
Analyzing firm-specific biographical data.
Analyzing a firm’s biographical data—most of
which can be found on the current and departed
high- and low-performing lawyers’ résumés and
transcripts—helps answer the following foundational questions:
• Which law schools have produced the most,
EFFECTIVE USE OF SUCCESS TRAITS DATA
In PwC’s assurance practice, structured interviews are
used to hire external managing directors and partners.
After a comprehensive competency study of the critical
skills necessary for success, the firm implemented behavioral questions and a balanced scorecard based on those
success traits. The behavioral questions and scorecard
are used for both candidate interviews and performance
evaluations of their existing managing directors and partners. They have used this approach for the past two years
to hire more than 100 managing directors and partners
whose contributions have had a significant impact on the
practice’s revenue growth. According to Courtney Moore,
who leads executive recruiting for PwC Assurance, the
practice has had a 90 percent acceptance rate and less
than 5 percent attrition at the managing director level, with
0 percent attrition at the partner level, since the practice
established a formal program around executive hiring.