Why Your Law Firm Needs 360 Performance Evaluation

Performance Management

Why Your Law Firm Needs 360 Performance Evaluation

23 Jun, 2020

In many cases, law firm employee performance evaluation is a bit behind-the-times. In this post, we want to cover why performance evaluation is so important and how new models combined with software can help your law firm perform at more optimal levels. 


Historically, the legal profession is not an industry known for paying close attention to employee satisfaction. With new tools, cultural changes, and technology, this has begun to change though. More law firms are reimagining the working culture within a law firm in order to attract, engage, and retain the best talent. 


Read on to learn why your law firm needs 360 performance evaluation and the tips for getting the best possible results in using it (hint: a robust tool will help lead the way!)

What is 360 Performance Evaluation


360-degree performance evaluation is a process in which feedback is elicited from not just an employee’s manager, but upper management, team members, and, if applicable, subordinates. Many enterprises are increasingly adopting this type of performance evaluation because it gives a more well-rounded view of how a particular employee is performing from multiple perspectives. 


Why Your Law Firm Needs it


Implementing 360 performance evaluation in law firms leads to more meaningful professional development for lawyers in the firm, and any other employees involved (HR, marketing, etc.)


For law firms to not only perform well but thrive in this day and age, it requires having attorneys and law firm employees who are encouraged to reach their full potential.


In the law world, it’s often that the focus is placed on client relationships and satisfaction. But many overlook the importance of investing more time and energy into the key people the law firm relies on. This can result in even better output and customer satisfaction.


Having law firm performance evaluation allows you to identify each employees’ strengths more effectively and encourages better collaboration among attorneys and other staff. It also gives opportunities for benchmarking and developing performance goals for the future. This can be a good change of pace rather than only focusing on the clients and tasks at hand.


What’s more, implementing a more affirming program that incorporates 360 performance evaluation can help create an environment that provides long-lasting benefits to both lawyers individually and the firm as a whole.


The purpose of law firm employee performance evaluation, specifically 360-degree evaluation, helps lawyers feel more confident in their strengths and also discover what isn’t working so they can shift practices and behaviors.


Employee Evaluation Metrics for Legal Professionals


To help get your law firm started with 360 performance evaluation, we’ll cover some useful metrics that can be used for attorneys within law firms. It’s key to remember that whatever metrics you use for 360 performance evaluation, they should contain both qualitative and quantitative metrics

• Customer metrics

Evaluating customer satisfaction metrics through surveys and net promoter scores can help law firms understand what clients liked and disliked with both the firm and specific attorneys. With the data law firms can also calculate scores and trends across all customers to get a larger picture of how the firm is performing as a whole.

• Responsibility & workload metrics

Looking at how many projects/cases an attorney is working on during a given period and how long it takes for them to spend to complete each gives departments an understanding of what each attorney can handle at a given time. It also helps in dividing up the workload and knowing when and where to give more responsibility.

• Cost metrics

Cost reflects things like internal versus external spend and pairing those against the industry average. This helps firms decipher whether they’re being competitive enough to be the most valuable provider and also which attorneys are bringing in the most return on investment. It’s also important to look at the fees associated per case and analyze those.

• Attorney knowledge & competence

Valuable and knowledgeable attorneys must have a solid grasp of facts and the law. They should be consistently learning and refreshing their knowledge in order to properly anticipate problems and carry out sufficient consultations with clients.


Law Firm Employee Performance Evaluation Tips for the Best Results


Here are some of our tips for the most optimal law firm performance evaluation results:


  1. Try structuring the evaluation form around the position description. Then, for the 360-degree performance review, the employee can be evaluated based on those factors. 


  1. Try not to include more than six essential duties in the performance evaluation form. Depending on the role, you may include a little more or less, but keep it close to that number.


  1. On top of the position duties, a form should also include the firm-wide goals and values to which the employee being evaluated must be held accountable for. This can be things like high-quality service, a code of ethics, team collaboration, and more.


  1. Evaluate based on specific goals based on previous evaluation periods and/or for the upcoming year. This can help identify strengths versus weaknesses so the employee knows where to improve.


  1. The 360 performance evaluation should include as much input as possible. This means not only having an employee self-evaluation and the manager evaluation, but other people like peers, mentors, subordinates, and fellow lawyers the employee works with regularly.


  1. Remember that it's often not the law firm performance review process itself that is the most difficult, but rather, the implementation and getting everyone’s buy-in. Make sure the firm is prepared and allots time for the adoption of this new method.


Having a law firm employee 360 performance evaluation has the potential to bring numerous benefits to the firm. However, in an increasingly complex and high-stakes environment, switching to new methods can be hard. 


Implementing an easy-to-use tool to automate and track the performance review and 360-degree feedback process can make it easier. Learn more about 360 performance review with Heartpace and contact us for more on how to get up-and-running with this tool for your firm today.

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