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News Briefs—Schools Most Beloved by Big Law; Performance Review Follies. + Dewey Query!

Vivia Chen

June 21, 2012

Tv news© lucadp - Fotolia.comHere's a mishmash of news and thoughts for the week:

1.If you wanna have a shot at making big bucks, go to these schools. I'm getting awfully tired of all these law school lists, but lists are what people want! So here's the latest scoop on the top 15 feeder schools for big firms (along with the percentage of grads who got big-firm jobs), according to the Wall Street Journal law blog:

    Columbia - 59%

    Penn - 53% 

    Northwestern - 48%

    Harvard - 46%

    Chicago - 44%

    Stanford - 43%

    NYU - 42%

    Duke - 38%

    UC, Berkeley - 38%

    Cornell - 35%

    U Va - 33%

    USC - 31%

    Georgetown - 30%

    Yale - 29%

    U Michigan - 29%

    This WSJ list, which is based on newly released figures from the ABA, largely tracks the one compiled by The National Law Journal that I wrote about like two days ago. (Okay, it was actually in February.)

    These lists cannot be encouraging to anyone whose goal is to land a high-paying legal job out of the gate. When only two of the top schools are sending barely more than half of their class to big firms, this is not a sign of market health. Let's make this point explicit: For the class of 2011, "only 8 percent landed jobs at firms with more than 250 attorneys," says the WSJ law blog.

    The TaxProf Blog, which also looks at this data, notes that "15 law schools did not report a single 2011 grad with a Big Law job: Appalachian, Charlotte, CUNY, John Marshall-Atlanta, Liberty, North Carolina Central, Phoenix, Regent, Arkansas-Little Rock, Hawaii, New Mexico, South Dakota, District of Columbia, Wyoming, and Western New England."

    Somehow, I doubt this list is definitive.

    Even HR doesn't like them! I've never made a secret about how I feel about performance reviews. I once compared employees awaiting reviews to the poor bunnies awaiting slaughter at the Guangzhou market. Reviews are dreaded and rarely beneficial to anyone, except the employer that's trying to create a pretext to fire an employee.

    Now it turns out even human resources people don't think much of the review process. According to the Harvard Business Review blog, a recent survey by Globoforce and the Society for Human Resource Management finds that "45 percent of human resources leaders don't think annual performance reviews are an accurate appraisal for employees' work. And 42 percent don't think employees are rewarded fairly for their job performance."

    3. Question of the week: How much are those former Dewey partners getting at their new firms? One major lesson from Dewey's demise is that law firms shouldn't overpay for star lawyers, right? So are those Dewey partners who have landed elsewhere now selling at a fraction of their Dewey price? Or are their new firms shelling out comparable big bucks for those same big boys (yes, they are virtually all boys)?

    Just curious.

Comments

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Performance reviews don't have to be poorly done, intimidating and worthless. They do need to be well done. The younger generations, especially, want to have feedback. They want it more often and to be helpful so they learn and improve.

Performance reviews in the work world in general are not very well done. Law firms are worse than average. The partners don't like doing them and typically kick the can down the road since it's not billable time.

Firms have to train people on how to give and receive feedback and treat a good reviewing process as a competitive advantage in the marketplace with recognition for those who do them well. Otherwise, what will change? Maybe it's a good idea to get rid of formal performance reviews. But well done feedback in some form is necessary to develop talent and set compensation fairly.

Interesting about performance reviews. I am curious how the crowdsourcing approach referred to in the Harvard Business Review blog can be implemented in a law firm context and whether any firms are experimenting with this approach.

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About The Careerist

The Careerist takes an inside look at how lawyers shape their careers and manage their lives. The blog aims to dissect developments in the profession, provide useful information and advice, and give lawyers a platform to voice their views. The goal is to provide a fresh, provocative take on the state of lawyering.

About Vivia Chen

Vivia Chen

Vivia Chen, The Careerist's chief blogger, has been covering the business and culture of law firms for a decade. A former corporate lawyer, Chen is fascinated by those who thrive (as well as those who don't) in the legal profession. Her take: Success in the law (and life) doesn't always travel a linear path. If you have topics you'd like to discuss or information to share, contact her: [email protected]

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