TaxProf Blog

Editor: Paul L. Caron, Dean
Pepperdine University School of Law

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Moneyball For Law: Assessing Lawyer 'Soft Skills' That Predict Performance

Evolve the Law, Moneyball For Law: Assessing Lawyer "Soft Skills" That Predict Performance:

Like sabermetricians, Industrial and Organizational (I/O) Psychologists study human behavior in organizations. They use the five factor model of personality characteristics aka “the big five” to assess an individual’s personality traits. Studies show that strengths of certain personality traits can predict professional success. Generally, candidates are likely to be top performers across industries and jobs when scoring high on these traits:

  • Conscientiousness—a person’s ability to be organized, disciplined, achievement-oriented, and dependable.
  • Emotional resilience—a person’s ability to remain calm under pressure and adapt to stressful situations and people. ...

An exact prediction of future human behavior is impossible; these methods have no absolutes or guarantees. But like Moneyball, we can see correlations, and offer better chances of finding the best talent.

And while machine learning recruiting technologies have been recently shown to perpetuate patterns of bias as Amazon recently discovered, psychometric methods can reduce bias with algorithms based on core competencies for a job versus a machine making assumptions based on past biased patterns.

Legal Education | Permalink


In reality the list looks thus:

- Where did the applicant go to law school?
- Where did the applicant go undergrad?
- Did the applicant clerk for an acceptably prestigious federal feeder judge?
- What was the AmLaw / Vault ranking of the first law firm applicant worked for?
- How big is the applicant's portable book?

For less-experienced positions, just repeat "where did applicant go to law school?" five times.

Posted by: Unemployed Northeastern | Nov 29, 2018 2:36:36 PM

Interesting, although personality questionnaires would seem highly coachable, and having everyone be best in the same way might lead to groupthink.

But do lawyers need to read these psychological tea leaves before we're at the level of regular Base Ball and Foot Ball?

They scout directly for job related abilities like running, throwing, and intelligence.

While too often our profession trades difficult questions and objective tests for the hazy mirrors of former employers' and schools' unique situations, social engineering, favoritism, and Keynesian beauty contest of whom they think we want.

If we compete better, maybe they'll pack OUR court-side seats!

Posted by: Anand Desai | Nov 30, 2018 2:18:36 PM