Rely Less on ‘Gut,’ Embrace Data: Tips for Spurring Algorithm-Assisted Lawyer Hiring

Commit to rethinking law firm norms: Adding new approaches into a law firm isn’t easy—including modifying its hiring processes. But law firms
must be willing to loosen their grip on only picking candidates from a limited pool of schools and embrace hiring analytics experts and letting data override some gut feelings. One significant factor hindering data-driven decisions in law firms is the traditional legal business model,
noted Corcoran Consulting Group legal industry consultant Tim Corcoran. “Law firms are generally not designed to maximize profits or client satisfaction or even quality,” he said. “They are designed to meet a partner’s needs and demands.”

Understand algorithms are an assistant, not a replacement: For some, including algorithms in the hiring process conjures images of technology taking humans out of the process of spotting promising candidates. But such fears aren’t a reality, said Matt Spencer, CEO and co-founder of assessments software Suited, which has been leveraged by
Big Law firms. Law firm recruitment from law schools, for example, benefits from additional technology but it isn’t intended to replace recruitment processes, Spencer noted.

“Our goal here is to help firms make better data-driven decisions within the construct of their existing process,” he said during a 2020 interview. “Law school recruiting is very well-defined and they all have their own timelines.”

Embrace data and the few experts in the field: After securing buy-in from key stakeholders, law firms must be willing to invest the time to collect personnel and law firm data. “When we start in the earliest days, we handle the integration of all their data, but they have to create [the data] in its rawest form,”
said Evan Parker, CEO and founder of data analysis provider Parker Analytics. “Not everyone enjoys that. You are asking people to do more than their normal responsibilities.”

Further complicating data collection is the limited pool of law firm statistical experts available, Parker added. “In a few years, that might change. But right now, firms are thinking about whether they should hire someone for this sort of role,” Parker said. “The problem is that it is still an emerging role. When someone hires a CMO, they know what they are getting and what that person will do. This is different.”

Highlight data-driven solutions’ successes: Law firms aren’t known for quickly embracing internal changes, but demonstrated success from data-backed hiring could spur adoption amongst law firms,
noted Keith Wetmore, managing director for the San Francisco office of Major, Lindsey & Africa.

“You have to come back to measurability,” Wetmore said. Such as, “If you demonstrate you have a 20% higher success rate on your law school recruits by posing four questions in every interview and assessing those answers, you would probably get buy-in.”

Algorithms are slowly playing a role in law firms’ lawyer hiring processes. However, while algorithms can provide efficiency and data-driven decision-making, their use can also accelerate disparate impact and collide with law firms’ traditional practices.

Above, Legaltech News provides some tips for successfully implementing algorithms into a law firm’s associate and lateral hiring.

Zubair Q Britania

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