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How continuous reviews improve your law firm
Blog //08-03-2024

How continuous reviews improve your law firm

In the world of law, where excellence isn't just strived for but expected, the performance review is a cornerstone in measuring progress and delivering feedback. However, traditional annual or semi-annual review systems often fall short in providing the timely and effective feedback required in such high-stakes environments and studies show just 14% of employees find their performance review to inspire improvement. For modern law firms, a shift to continuous reviews may not just be a progressive step but an imperative one.

Challenges with the system

Traditional reviews have long been the status quo in law firms, with their structured processes and formal settings. Yet, they're not without their flaws and 59% of employees think traditional performance reviews have no impact on their performance. What some may see as standardised approach running on automatic schedules, others might interpret as inflexible structures impeding real-time feedback, fostering an environment where small issues can grow into larger, more insidious problems.

Consider this: in a field where details can be the difference between a win and a loss in court, delayed performance acknowledgment is a luxury law firms can ill-afford. Waiting months for an annual review to address an underperforming associate can mean significant time and resources lost over a mistake that could have been identified and remedied earlier.

Additionally, the anticipation and build-up to infrequent reviews can generate anxiety and tension, which may not be the best environment for open and constructive dialogue. They also risk treating the evaluation of people as a snapshot, neglecting the very dynamic nature of personal and professional growth.

Benefits of continuous reviews

Continuous reviews are essentially a more iterative, agile approach to the review process. By collecting and analysing data on an ongoing basis, firms can spot trends, intervene when necessary, and provide recognition and support in a manner timely to the actual performance.

One significant benefit is that they foster a culture of open communication. Associates are not left to wonder how they're doing; they receive consistent, actionable feedback that can keep them on the right trajectory. This helps in fostering an atmosphere where feedback is integrated into routine operations, rather than an occasional and possibly foreboding managerial event.

The technology that often underpins continuous reviews allows for the easy tracking of performance metrics, seamlessly integrating feedback into the tools the firm uses to manage its work. This provides a holistic view of an individual's performance over time, reflecting the complexities of legal work more accurately than any single annual report could ever hope to achieve.

By providing a full view of individual performance and giving the opportunity to reflect on work, helps to build mentorship and can offer career guidance, something that 36% of lawyers say a lack off is the biggest reason for leaving a firm.

Impact on the law firm and its staff

The benefits of continuous reviews extend beyond the method of feedback itself. They can lead to higher levels of job satisfaction and engagement as employees feel valued and supported in their roles. More frequent clarity on performance benchmarks can prevent self-doubt, while positive and corrective feedback, when timely, can have the most significant impact on performance improvement. In fact, 71% of employees who believe that their boss can identify their abilities are more engaged and enthusiastic at work.

From a strategic standpoint, the data collected through continuous reviews can inform a variety of decisions, from resource allocation to professional development and even when considering promotions or adjustments to compensation.

Continuous reviews in law firms are an opportunity to deepen the professional development of your associates, to maintain high-performance standards, and to foster a culture of continuous improvement. They do come with their challenges and administrative burdens, but the investment is one that yields returns in the quality of your legal services and the satisfaction of your team.

In the race for law firms to differentiate themselves by the quality of their services, embracing modern and more dynamic approaches to performance assessment isn't just recommended; it's decisive.

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