As I wrote about recent efforts to rank law firms, both by groups of law departments and individual departments (See my post of Nov. 19, 2007.), my thoughts went to an alternative method: shared, blind ratings of work product. For example, what if 10 law departments each volunteered a recent brief in a motion for summary judgment. Each department would redact any clues as to itself or the firm – but bear in mind that a pleading is a matter of public record – and a third party would assemble the briefs.
A panel of accomplished lawyers would grade the motions on two or three attributes – persuasiveness, quality of writing, depth of research, perhaps – without knowing which law firm wrote which brief.
That qualitative assessment would be even stronger if the law departments would estimate the fees charged by the firm for the motion and if an outcome were attached to it.