Law school nonprofit buys Bill Henderson's Lawyer Metrics company
William Henderson. Photograph by Wayne Slezak.
A nonprofit group made up of about 200 law schools is acquiring the assets of Lawyer Metrics, a company formed in 2010 partly to help law firms use statistics to hire and retain the best legal talent.
The Access Group announced the acquisition in a press release (PDF). Lawyer Metrics was co-founded by Indiana University law professor William Henderson and Pennsylvania State University statistics professor Christopher Zorn, and both will stay with the company after the sale to the Access Group.
Terms of the deal are undisclosed, Henderson tells the ABA Journal.
Henderson says he and Zorn were eager for their company to become a nonprofit and sought out the Access Group as a potential buyer. “This is an absolutely ideal outcome for us,” says Henderson, who says the deal will allow him to do high-impact work.
Henderson will spend part of his time as a law professor and part of his time doing research with Lawyer Metrics. Clients will continue to pay Lawyer Metrics for research projects, but profits will fund additional research, he tells the ABA Journal.
“We’ve already got an ambitious list of projects that we will be working on,” Henderson says. “Look to us to be putting into the public domain information that helps law schools and the legal industry adapt to changing times.”
The Access Group provides financial education services and resources for students and schools. It also founded a research center with these priorities: to understand the barriers that impede access to law school for underrepresented groups, to identify strategies that increase law-school affordability, and to determine the value of legal education beyond graduates’ short-term employment and earnings outcomes. (Those priorities are listed at page 9 of this annual report (PDF) by the Access Group.)
Henderson says in the press release that Lawyer Metrics and the Access Group have “two symbiotic missions” that will be advanced by joining forces.
Lawyer Metrics didn’t confine its focus to law firm hiring. It has also done work for law schools and other groups, and has gathered statistical information in areas such as human capital and the legal market. As a result, Henderson says he has gained insights that would have been impossible absent five years of applied work.
Henderson is a regular contributor to the ABA Journal’s Paradigm Shift series. Henderson is also currently working on an article for a NALP publication about the ways law firms can address lack of progress on diversity. The NALP article is based on what he has learned at Lawyer Metrics about how lawyers develop as professionals. He found that these five factors make a person a great lawyer: being academically gifted, having a tremendous amount of motivation, getting valuable work assignments early early on, getting good feedback, and having the type of mentor who can “supercharge” a career.
Creating an empirical model for lawyer development fits well with new projects he is planning, Henderson says. Large law firms focus on pedigree and academic credentials, but they also need to consider skills gained in legal education. Lawyer Metrics is “going to be in a very good position I think to help legal employers and law schools think through a curriculum for the 21st century,” he says.