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Rating law firms – learn from a clever rating system of arbitrators and mediators

Amidst all the hoopla about rating law firms online, along comes a respected organization that hopes to have online ratings of “neutrals” available in early 2010 (See my post of Nov. 5, 2009: collected assessments by law departments of their firms with 10 references.).

The ABA J., Vol. 95, Dec. 2009 at 29, explains that the International Institute for Conflict Prevention & Resolution (CPR) has decided on a clever methodology. Of the roughly 600 mediators and arbitrators (called “neutrals”) the Institute has approved to provide services in complex business-to-business situations, those who sign up for the rating program must provide 20 references to a third-party company, Positively Neutral. That company will interview the references regarding a variety of categories. After Positively Neutral compiles the scores and anecdotes, the neutral can review the conclusion and agree to have the information posted or opt out.

I like the approach and can see it working with large law firms. If the third-party is tough minded, listens to what is said and fills in what is not said, and has a defensible formula for scoring and rating, the results would be useful for in-house lawyers who seek capable firms.