The talent literature cites as gospel that “there’s a huge gap between the business results that average employees deliver and what stars deliver,” NY Times, April 23, 2006 at C3. According to Thomas A. Davenport, Thinking for A Living: How to Get Better Performance and Results from Knowledge Workers (Harvard Bus. School Press, 2005) at 145, “80 percent of the work is done by 20 percent of the people.” (See my post of Sept. 4, 2005 on other applications of Pareto’s 80/20 theory.).
An evaluation system that early on picks out high-potential lawyers (See my post of May 14, 2005 on executive development courses for them.) should pay off handsomely. Not that pure talent decides who’s a Lawyer of Steel (See my post of July 14, 2005 on four dimensions of success.), but if this view holds true – that the rare star makes a huge difference in a law department – then every effort should be devoted to hire, retain, challenge and make the best use of superlative talent.