Feb 12, 2021

How does a lawyer’s performance get evaluated – this is one question that I discuss in my new book “Minority Viewpoint – my experience, as a person of color, with the American Justice System”. What can we do if we feel that the performance of a lawyer did not meet our expectations?

As I discussed in the book, I had decided (based on advice from a number of other lawyers) to have a meeting with the managing partner of the law firm to discuss the issues. I was happy when the law firm agreed to set up a meeting with the managing partner. But it appeared to me that the managing partner was not open to understand my complaints; in fact, I felt that he was primarily focused on defending his lawyer on each of the issues. I would think that a law firm would expect the utmost professionalism and competence from their lawyers. Then why wouldn’t they want to hear and understand what the clients think of their lawyers’ performance?

That brought up a question for me – how do law firms really evaluate the performance of their high-priced lawyers? I am not aware that there is ever a survey sent out by a law firm about how a lawyer performed for his/her client. Most service industries send out surveys to collect information about their performance. Some clinics these days send out surveys to find out how their doctors do on a regular basis – why don’t the law firms do that? What are the law firms afraid of?

I find it very difficult to understand why critical feedback from clients don’t seem to be welcomed by the law firms. Is it possible that the key performance criterion for a lawyer is how much money the lawyer is able to bring in, at a high rate of profit, irrespective of how he or she performs for the client? If that is true, then that will certainly determine the driving forces as to how a lawyer acts and performs, because performance management guidelines drive the behavior of the professional.

The bottom line is that welcoming and honoring detailed critical feedback from the clients will improve trustworthiness of the legal community.

© 2017 - Sumi Mukherjee
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