post # 315 — February 22, 2007 — a Managing post
Hereâ€™s a question about performance appraisals:
We are in the midst of generating year- end reviews for our associate (ie non-partner) lawyers. We have moved away from a standardized report and have been coaching all year. The report we will give them will merely be a re-cap of all the coaching sessions for the year. We will of course be addressing monetary rewards and we are in a heated debate about one issue. Should we address the billing amounts of each lawyer at this review? Should one be congratulated over the others for doing more individual billable hours? Isnâ€™t there a risk that we will set up an unhealthy competition and seem to encourage less teamwork?
I have a few responses:
- If you have been coaching all year, why do you need a year-end review?
- If there is a need for something year-end, shouldnâ€™t it be less of a â€œreviewâ€ and focus almost entirely on looking ahead as to what each person can and should be doing to enhance their career? Whatâ€™s the point of looking back?
- In a law firm, arenâ€™t the number of billable hours determined by what the partners assign to the juniors? If so, what do high personal billable hours reflect? Popularity among the partners? A more dependable person? Someone too dumb to hide out when they are already busy? Iâ€™d discuss the personal billable hours and try to understand them, but I would stay away from using them as a performance metric.