An Associate’s Guide to Law Firm Performance Reviews (Including Getting a Bad Law Firm Performance Review)

The thought of being evaluated probably makes your skin crawl. That’s understandable. Evaluations are far more likely to focus on things you’re not doing well than things you’re getting right. They’re a form of criticism, and who likes that?

Well, I’m not telling you that an evaluation is something that’s organically likeable. But if you prep yourself appropriately, you can use evaluations to identify yourself as a star in the making, even if the evaluation is heavily negative. “What?” you’re thinking. “That’s not possible!” Sure it is. It may not be obvious, but a lot of what’s going on in an evaluation is this: Do you have what it takes to become great? You’re probably thinking that your “raw material” is your oral advocacy skill or your writing ability, but that’s only partially true. What really determines if you get ahead is whether or not people view you as capable of taking direction to hone the skills you have. Nobody graduates from law school as a fully-functioning professional. You need to be able to respond to guidance in order to get there. And the place where people are most able to gauge your ability to do that is when you’re being criticized, whether in an evaluation or anywhere else. There’s an old quote that goes, “It’s not until the tide goes out that you can see who’s not wearing a bathing suit.” When people are patting you on the back for your great grades or passing the bar or doing a good job—that’s the easy part. But it’s not where people judge you the most. It’s when they’re telling you, “Here’s something you need to improve ...” or “You don’t do this as well as you could.” That's where they’ll make up their minds about you. In this article, we’ll talk about how you handle a situation where you’re under fire so that you come out making people think even more of you than they did before. It is possible. And you’re going to do it!

See Related Articles:

How to Survive a Bad Performance Appraisal, Part 1

Tips on How to Survive a Bad Performance Appraisal, Part 2  

7 Effective Tips for Attorney Performance Evaluations


What you need to do before—and in between—evaluations.