Interesting topic going on over at the Hildebrandt blog on whether it is time to develop new ideas for measuring performance at law firms. In Lisa Smith’s post “Time for New Metrics“, she lays out some interesting new categories that law firms should develop to show how they are managing their business:

  • Firm Performance – what are the relevant measures of firm performance, including the profit margin idea above?
  • Expense Management – how do we measure the impact of changes in staffing models, leveraging technology in delivering services, outsourcing?
  • Practice Management – how do we compare the performance of practices who may have very different profit drivers and pricing models?
  • Partner Performance – how do we move from a billable hours and originations driven approach to measuring partner performance?
  • Client Development/Market Strength – how do measure success in strengthening client relationships?
  • Balance Sheet/Risk – can we assess the strengths and weaknesses of a firm’s financial practices?
  • Management and Leadership – can we measure the effectiveness of strategic, talent management and other initiatives? 
I’ve seen a lot of talk lately about how firms and clients are wanting to find ways to improve overall efficiency effectiveness of how matters are handled, and I’ve seen a lot of charts from consultants on methods to follow to improve efficiency and effectiveness. However, it doesn’t seem that anyone is putting these ideas into motion.
It reminded me of a story that a secretary once told me when I worked at a law school. She said that the people she worked for were very good at “getting their ducks in a row.” Unfortunately, they were not very good at “kicking the last duck in the ass to get them to go into the water.”  When that happened, she took it upon herself to do a little kicking to get things moving. 
Once again, someone has come up with a new method of looking at measuring performance, but it doesn’t look as if anyone is lining up to put this type of tool into action. If law firms don’t kick themselves in the rear and get moving… then they might find their clients putting on their boots and getting ready to do a little kicking in order to get their firms into the water.