Law departments, A-players and A-positions

A thoughtful article urges companies to define their strategically key positions – their A positions – and take pains to they staff them with A players (Harv. Bus. Rev., Dec. 2005 at 110). If that proposition holds true, does it mean that law departments have A positions, other than the positions defined by title and compensation. Law departments talk about core competencies (See my post of March 13, 2006 at Philip Morris and posts cited.), but should they be thinking about core positions?

According to the article, strategic positions are relatively rare – “less than 20% of the workforce.”
Strategic jobs do, however, display a great deal of variability in performance, which represents huge upside potential for improvement. If the authors’ example of salespeople’s’ productivity varying enormously applies equally to lawyers, then lawyers in the top decile may produce five to ten times the value of lawyers in the 50th percentile.

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