bigstock-People-Work-In-An-Offices--83218625-082978-edited.jpg

Associate Performance

    Most law firm partners would admit that they would like to get more engagement from their associates. Most associates would admit that they would like more satisfaction from their work. Aligning these two objectives involves a committed effort, the right systems and the right people.

     

    The goals of any performance management system include: 

     

    • Identifying and encouraging model associates;
    • Nurturing those best suited to serve the firm’s clients;
    • Enabling associates to reach their full potential; and
    • Early identification of those who would perform better in another role.

     

    When considering associate performance, the following factors are relevant:

     

    • Quality of the associate
    • Hiring criteria
    • Suitability for the role
    • Quality of training and mentoring
    • Clarity of expectations
    • Compensation and incentives
    • Process and communication

     

    Distinguishing between the qualities that add short and long term value to a firm and encouraging the right behaviours will produce the best results. As a geneneral rule, we encourage clients to consider associate contributions in the following way:

    BUILDING LONG TERM VALUE PROFIT CONTRIBUTIONS
    SUBJECTIVE OBJECTIVE
    More salary emphasis Less salary emphasis
    Less bonus recognition More bonus recognition
    Equal advancement weight Equal advancement weight

    Measurable increases and contributions

    Considering the subjective and objective factors indicated in the table below are useful to informing salary and bonus decisions.

    Increases: Contributions:
    Quality of professional work(capability) Personal profitability
    Client relations and service Profitability of others (leverage and supervision)
    Personal development Client profitability (to include originations)
    Business development competence Recruiting profitable lawyers
    Professional recognition  
    Training contributions  
    Adding to the reputation of the firm  
    BUILDING LONG TERM VALUE
    SUBJECTIVE
    More salary emphasis
    Less bonus recognition
    Equal advancement weight
    PROFIT CONTRIBUTIONS
    OBJECTIVE
    Less salary emphasis
    More bonus recognition
    Equal advancement weight

    Measurable increases and contributions

    Considering the subjective and objective factors indicated in the table below are useful to informing salary and bonus decisions.

    Increases:
    Quality of professional work(capability)
    Client relations and service
    Personal development
    Business development competence
    Professional recognition
    Training contributions
    Adding to the reputation of the firm
    Contributions:
    Personal profitability
    Profitability of others (leverage and supervision)
    Client profitability (to include originations)
    Recruiting profitable lawyers

    We advise firms to develop an associate development system with the components outlined in the table below.

    COMPONENT RECRUITING EFFECTIVENESS ASSOCIATE QUALITY WORK ETHIC SUITABILITY FOR THE ROLE TRAINING AND MENTORING CLEAR EXPECTATIONS COMPENSATION AND INCENTIVES PROCESS AND FEEDBACK
    Priority Ensure that the firm is attracting the right candidates Ensure that selected candidates are capable of performing at high levels in their roles Determine performance level to support expedited advancement Determine if associate is in the right role Ensure that associates have an opportunity to show their best work Ensure that associates understand their role and how they add value Ensure compensation is commensurate with contribution Ensure processes are in place to provide feedback on a consistent basis
    Tools Role specific model associate performance and values, successful associate trend analysis, include successful associates in the recruiting process Hiring criteria, model associate guidelines, role specific performance expectations, successful associate input, client best practices Workload distribution, work product evaluation, profitability, total time committment Realization metrics, progression rate, timeliness ratings, practice plan feedback, performance assessments Formal training plan, access to senior lawyers, formal mentoring program, congruent work assignments Client values orientation, economic orientation, progression path, practice planning process, performance assessments Profitability analysis, progression analysis, billing rate analysis, file management performance Skills and performance assessments, practice plans, continuous feedback systems
    Measurements Class standing, undergraduate degree, prior work history, potential to meet specific role, thorough interview process Writing samples, prior work history, technical qualifications, role specific attributes Hours worked, partner ratings, increasing assignments and workloads, profitabilty time written off before billing, time written off by clients, performing at or beyond experience level, timeliness factors, qualitative evaluation results Mentor evaluations, work assignment review, exposure review, plan execution Quantity and quality of work, growth into role, short and long term value progression, activity analysis Profitability, billing rate increases, realization percentages, profitability of others being supervised (if applicable), long term value added Benchmark analysis, historical progression speed, feedback frequency, and projectable future
    Frequency Constant Semi-annually, at least On Going Semi-annually, at least Ongoing Semi-annually, at least Semi-annually for feedback and annually for pay Semi-annually, at least

    We recommend a process that is supported by a combination of emprical tools that include written practice plans, regular feedback, work product reviews, progress assessments against performance benchmarks and mentoring.  


    To download PerformLaw's "Associate Development" to develop your firm's associate performance, click the link below.

    AssociateDevelopmentImage_CTA.jpg
     Download Webinar Slides