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Job descriptions retard what is vital in a law department: change

“Job descriptions are emblematic of stability and as a result are a poor fit for any built-to-change organization.” This dramatic quote, the Sloan Mgt. Rev., Fall 2006 at 19, casts job descriptions in a new light (actually, a new dark). Why bother with the rigidity of a statement of responsibilities only to have to tell a lawyer that the latest assignment always falls under the catch-all “other duties as assigned”?

I have questioned the value of job descriptions (See my posts of June 21, 2006 for criticisms; July 5, 2006 #3 regarding “rich pictures”; and March 3, 2006 for John Deere’s reevaluation of its position descriptions), but this article criticizes them for a different reason and more forcefully.

A job description may have some use for a recruiter who seeks to fill the position, but thereafter it can only be a constraint on flexibility and career development. One might argue that a position description goes part way to explain what the holder of that position needs to do to be promoted, but I think not; the document is static, not oriented toward learning and progress (See my posts of June 27, 2006 on published promotion criteria; Dec. 28, 2006 about promotions and career paths; March 6, 2006 on dual-track systems; and March 28, 2006 on reasons to go in-house.).

At bottom, I wonder who actually looks at and makes use of job descriptions.

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