April 2003  Volume 29, Issue 3
April 2003 Issue
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Smart Practices / Managing
Managing: Making Associate Evaluations Worthwhile
by Susan Saltonstall Duncan

Create an effective evaluation system by implementing a formal process that addresses the following issues.

  • Decide on and state the goals of your system. Why evaluate associates? What do you want them-and your firm-to gain from the process?
  • Decide how often you will perform evaluations. Annually? Twice a year? More frequently?
  • Choose specific criteria or core competencies for each practice group in the firm. What does it take to succeed in that specific practice at each level of experience?
  • How will you collect information regarding each criterion for your associates? Will you distribute a written form to each lawyer who has worked with a particular associate? Who will collect and analyze the information?
  • What message do you want to deliver to a specific associate? What do you hope for in terms of outcomes? Who will deliver the message?
  • Once the evaluation system is in place, assess it on a regular basis. How is the system working for both the lawyers who do the evaluations and the associates they evaluate? How can the system be improved?

Marcia Pennington Shannon ( www.shannonandmanch.com) is a principal in the Washington, DC, attorney management consulting firm Shannon & Manch, LLP. She is co-author of Recruiting Lawyers: How to Hire the Best Talent (ABA, 2000).