Law Practice Management

Some law firm trendsetters, like corporate clients, are testing attorneys for job compatibility


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You don’t learn to dance by reading a book.

Yet those in charge of major legal partnerships, unlike the corporations for which they work, typically don’t have formal testing and training programs to supplement the knowledge attorneys bring to the job from law school and select the right individuals to hire and promote, writes a top editor in an American Lawyer (sub. req.) article reprinted by the Am Law Daily.

A few trendsetters are embracing such programs, among them attorney Mark Levin, who serves as chief marketing officer at Neal, Gerber & Eisenberg. He has focused his efforts on hiring the right people.

With others, using a National Football League program focused on drafting the best players as a model, he has developed a test that looks for 22 traits among lawyers. After further work, to determine what traits proliferate among a specific law firm’s star practitioners, Levin says the test can help focus attention on applicants who are the best fit for the firm.

“We think we can assess the culture of a firm and the likelihood of success of a candidate through scientific methods,” he tells the legal publication.

Larry Richard, an attorney and psychologist, runs a consulting firm with a similar focus known as LawyerBrain. Such tests, he says, can help a law firm operate more efficiently. “The point here,” he says, “is to gauge how compatible is this person with a job, a role, a culture, a place.”

But making such assessments requires participation by those in charge, which can be personally difficult, writes ALM editor-in-chief Aric Press, a lawyer who took some of the tests himself.

“They need to assess themselves, as honestly and carefully as they might assess an applicant,” he says of law firm partners. “And that can be uncomfortable, even painful.”

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