Business of Law

Asked to demonstrate computer skills, 0 of 9 law firms passed in-house hiring test

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Update: Frustrated by big bills for routine matters, D. Casey Flaherty, who serves corporate counsel at Kia Motors America, struck back with a computer skills test for potential law firm hires.

Invited to submit an associate of their choice for testing, the first nine firms flunked, Flaherty, a keynote speaker, told a large group attending the LegalTech West Coast conference in Los Angeles this week. One firm, he said, flunked twice, Law Technology News reports.

Not all of those first nine firms were BigLaw firms, Flaherty told the ABA Journal. “Most were. But not all. And, indeed, the smallest of the firms also was, by far, the best.”

The issue is time, Flaherty explained in his talk on “Raising the Bar on Technological Competence—the Outside Counsel Tech Audit.” Multiply a Microsoft Word or Excel task that should take seconds by minutes, especially if it is performed again and again, and it can add up to a significant amount of money at law firms’ billable rates.

“The audit should take one hour,” he said, “but the average pace is five hours.”

Examples of tasks associates had trouble completing swiftly, because they obviously aren’t being trained on such skills, included providing PDF documents for court submissions and getting documents Bates-numbered.

Although Flaherty conducted the skills audit for the nine law firms himself, he is working with an outside training firm to automate the skills audit. He then plans to provide it at no cost to general counsel at other companies.

An earlier Law Technology News video and two articles (Law Technology News, Jan. 24, 2013. and Law Technology News, Jan. 25, 2013) provide further details.

Updated May 24 to include clarifications from Flaherty.

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