We are a six partner litigation firm in Des Moines, Iowa. This year we hired two associates and they are our first. We have not provided them with the best mentoring or guidance - it has sort of baptism by fire. I would appreciate your thoughts on what we should be doing concerning performance management.
Baptism by fire is not the best approach for managing associate performance. It may work in the long term but in the short term it will result in excessive "spin time" and lost revenue and profits for the firm. Here are a few thoughts:
- To be effective, evaluation of associates must be meaningful.
- Evaluation for associates right out of school should be done every six months for two years and annually thereafter.
- Written criteria must be developed and communicated to everyone as the basis for evaluation.
- The associate should be evaluated by every lawyer with whom the associate works.
- The evaluation process should be developmental. Weaknesses must be openly discussed, with a plan devised to eliminate the weaknesses. Professional goals should be set each year.
- Personal plans should be completed each year and be part of the evaluation process.
- The evaluations must be done timely.
Good luck with your program.
John W. Olmstead, MBA, Ph.D, CMC