fairs. Instead of relying on the hiring chair or a recruitment professional to make “educated” guesses about what
matters, the firm will have objective data that increases the
odds of selecting the candidates most likely to succeed in
their specific firm. The firm also will have a clear understanding of which schools generate “stars” for the firm so
they can make better strategic decisions about where to
recruit and how to effectively allocate limited resources.
This analysis is essentially Moneyball for law firm recruiting. (See Moneyball Analysis Reveals Unexpected Success
Factors on page 53.)
AMPLE RESEARCH ACROSS
MANY INDUSTRIES OUTLINES
THE ERRORS IN USING
ONE-ON-ONE OR INTERESTS-
BASED INTERVIEWING AS
THE PRIMARY SELECTION
TOOL FOR PERFORMANCE.
Analyzing firm-specific behavioral data. Analyzing a
firm’s behavioral data creates a firm-specific success profile
that can be used throughout the hiring and lawyer development processes. A firm’s unique success profile is built
through an analysis of performance data (e.g., performance
ratings, billable hours, realization rates) and the actual
behaviors (e.g., adaptable, innovative) of the high- and
low-performing lawyers, which can be uncovered through
surveys, behavioral event interviews and skills assessments.
With this data, the firm can explore the answers to the
• What skills and behaviors do the most and least effec-
tive associates and partners exhibit at the firm? What are
the “critical” versus “important” behaviors necessary for
success at each stage (e.g., junior, midlevel, senior) in an
associate’s career? How do the associates’ success traits
differ from the income and equity partners? And what
are the behavioral commonalities and differences by
practice group, office or other key demographics?
• In examining the current and departed associates’ performance reviews and performance data (e.g., billable
hours, realization rates), what are the commonalities
and differences among the A, B and C players?
• Of the associates promoted to partner in the last 10
years, what are the behaviors and traits of the ones who
have—and have not—become successful partners?
The results from this data analysis provide a clear and
concise road map of the skills and traits that are critical—not just important—for success within each practice
group and at every level of experience at a
specific firm. By supplementing an interviewer’s instinct with real data, and training
interviewers to use structured behavioral
and panel interview methods, law firms have
the ability to make better decisions during
the interview process. (See “Effective Use of
Success Traits Data” to left.)
Although the primary application of the behavioral analysis is to weed out the likely C players during the interview
process, it also has development and performance implications. From this data the firm will know which traits and
behaviors are (and are not) developmental in nature. For
instance, Lawyer Metrics’ study of law students, associates
and partners reveals that most skills, including initiative
and teamwork, are developed over time, with training and
experience. The firm will know which behaviors are priorities at each stage in an associate’s career so they can strategically focus the firm’s professional development money
and efforts (e.g., training, mentoring and coaching). The
firm also will know the critical traits associates need to
advance to the next level in the firm, including promotion
to income and equity partner, for evaluation and compensation purposes.
A firm can supplement its intuitive hiring and performance decisions by using this concrete talent data. And
because the data already exists within the firm, the biographical and behavioral analyses can be done internally
or externally with the help of knowledgeable talent management professionals and qualified quantitative experts.
In fact, many firms already employ a number of these folks.
The more a firm invests in better tools to screen, select
and develop its lawyers, the less it will spend on rehabilitating and outplacing C players. In the end, more effective recruiting and selection efforts free limited time and
resources to develop, advance and retain the top talent of
the firm. LP
Caren Ulrich Stacy is a principal and president at
Lawyer Metrics LLC.
Jeanne M. Picht is the director of strategic talent
management at Lawyer Metrics LLC.