Lawyers who “plateau” should not be disparaged

A pejorative air hangs around the term “plateaued,” as in “Sometimes veteran lawyers plateau.” The term leaves the unsavory impression that those lawyers no longer have any fire in the belly to be promoted or to take on new responsibilities.

Some lawyers reach their cognitive limits or their energy constraints or blockage in their willingness to change. None of that is bad so long as they have ample work to do, commensurate with their compensation, and can do it competently. Much legal work is not brain surgery (See my post of Oct. 18, 2005: much work doesn’t need a rocket scientist.).

Steady, good performers may not be peak performers, but they are a blessing, not a cursed plateau (See my posts of March 16, 2006: A-players; Sept. 10, 2005: B-players; Dec. 23, 2005: racehorses only are not good for a law department; and July 28, 2008: not every in-house lawyer years to be a general counsel.).

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