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Talent management techniques, including on-boarding and competency ladders

One panelist at the InsideCounsel SuperConference was the General Counsel of Johnson Controls, Jerry Okarma. His 55-lawyer legal department has a standardized on-boarding process for lawyers around the world. Otherwise, he said, there would be lots of different understandings. There is a schedule set for what newcomers should do and learn in the first three months, the first six months, and so forth. They have been using this process for the last year and a half and are continually improving it (See my post of Nov. 27, 2005: lawyers don’t coddle – sink or swim; April 27, 2006: on-boarding a new general counsel; Sept. 18, 2006: training program at Citigroup for new hires; May 28, 2007: Human Capital Theory espouses new-hire indoctrination; Jan. 4, 2008: socialization, another term for on-boarding; and April 6, 2008: new-lawyer orientation at GE.).

Okarma also showed his talent development chart. It has a row each for commercial contracts, corporate work, and antitrust. In the columns there were two numbered categories under each of basic, intermediate, and advanced. In other words, each lawyer for each of those three areas of law that were deemed core competencies is rated from one to six, the most advanced level of knowledge. The company also has a leader expectations model which is companywide and applies to the law department.