What if a law department awarded bonuses every time a patent issued speedily, a case over a certain value were resolved, an employment-discrimination charge dismissed without a factual inquiry? Good results such as those involve practice area benchmarks and risks of gaming by lawyers, but it is direct line of site between performance and reward. As to gaming (See my posts of May 15, 2005 on gaming assessments of complexity of legal services; Sept. 13 and May 16, 2006 on gaming performance metrics; and Sept. 4, 2006 on gaming fixed fees.).
During a recent webinar on talent management in law departments, Amy Gallent, deputy general counsel at Hartford Life, mentioned that in her law department, people are eligible for spot awards. If someone has worked very hard or come up with an ingenious solution, management can give them gift checks to recognize their contribution. That same department also bestows “awards of excellence” as a form of recognition.