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Evaluate firms on attributes, but also ask your attorneys to say how important those attributes are

If you ask your lawyers to evaluate the importance of various attributes of law firms – responsiveness, knowledge of the law, creativity and the like – you should also ask your lawyers to indicate the importance to them of the attributes.

This extra question addresses the same reason you should ask on client satisfaction surveys for ratings on the relative importance of your department’s performance attributes (See my post of Oct. 26, 2005: gap analysis of rating and its importance; and Nov. 28, 2008: relative importance of measurements on a balanced scorecard.). Scores on attributes make only as much difference as the attributes are important. A high score on penmanship doesn’t counteract a low score on the ability to achieve results (See my post of Nov. 16, 2005: evaluations of law firms with 9 references.).