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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

What are the best predictors of Big Law success?

A recent study conducted at a top 25 law firm found that law school rank and grade point average are not the best predictors of success at large law firms. In an article in the ABA Journal, one of the study's authors, Ron Paquette, notes, "The Harvard attorneys do not perform any better than those at the 30th-ranked law school."

So, what are better predictors of success? Participation in extra-curricular activities and collegiate-level athletics were among the 12 factors identified as better predictors for big firm success with success being defined as "longer tenure at the firm, higher productivity, and being a good cultural fit, based on an evaluation by a human resources staffer." All of the factors could be categorized as attributes connected to leadership.

"Based on his experience in corporate America, [Paquette] believes attributes such as an ability to adapt and get along with people contribute to success more than technical expertise. 'When you look at people skills, it really comes down to working well on a team,' he says, 'In reality, the best performing teams are the ones that learn to get along and leverage each other's skills.'"

It should be noted that this study only examined lawyers who were already "the cream of the crop." However, the results do indicate that those with the top grades from the top law schools aren't any more likely to succeed in an large firm environment than those from other schools with simply good grades.

Click here to read the entire article in addition to a lively discussion in the ABA Journal's comments section!

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