Not Another Exam

August 19, 2008 at 11:21 am | Posted in The Dreaded "E" Word: Exams! | 1 Comment
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From the Legal Blog Watch: “From law school finals to bar exams, lawyers routinely — and in my view, foolishly — place their faith in one-time test results rather than performance to judge merit.  But now an article inThe Lawyers Weekly (Canada) reports on one exam that actually make sense:  a test for whether a lawyer has the talent to make it as a rainmaker.

According to the article, Dr. Larry Richard, a lawyer-psychologist and director of Hildebrandt International’s Leadership and Organization Development program, has developed a test based on the Caliper Profile, a multiple-choice test that uses 18 base personality traits to assess a lawyer’s rainmaking skills.  Richard explains the five key traits of successful rainmakers:
First, they have ego drive. “They like to persuade people,” Dr. Richard says. They achieve ego gratification by convincing others to adopt their position or buy their product or services.

Second, they score high on empathy. Rainmakers can see other people’s perspective on an issue. “They’re good at understanding how the buyer is thinking,” Dr. Richard says.

Third, they demonstrate resilience. Rainmakers don’t get defensive or hurt when they’re rejected. Rather they view rejection as a challenge.

Fourth, they tend to be service minded. Rainmakers are natural salespeople, with a desire to help others.

Fifth, they possess conscientiousness. Rainmakers are disciplined and methodical in their approach to selling. To illustrate this point, Dr. Richard says that when a rainmaker sets out to attract clients, they will commit to contacting a certain number of clients each day. They won’t be deterred if only a handful of contacts produce leads or work. “They are disciplined about doing it, even if it can be unpleasant.”Though Richard cautions against using the Caliper test as a way to select lawyers for employment, he believes the test has other uses.  For example, firms might use the test to corroborate perceptions gleaned during the interview process or to identify and coach potential law firm rainmakers.
Because many lawyers either disdain rainmaking or aren’t very good at it, using a test to cull the best prospects makes sense.  Instead of spending thousands of dollars on rainmaking programs for lawyers who aren’t willing to learn or implement the lessons, firms could divert resources to those lawyers who enjoy rainmaking and hold the most potential for success.”


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  1. I find this test disturbing. I have interview hundreds of rainmakers in the profession, written three books on rainmaking, and, along with the other members of our firm helped many hundreds of professionals learn how to bring in new matters and new clients.

    The characteristics Dr. Richards has identified ring true. The test, then, may be good at identifying people wo have them. But it does not look at what in our experience is the single most important determanent of rainmaking success, the desire to bring in business. Someone with the will to succeed can learn many of the other traits.

    Take, for example, an attorney I will call Kate. She works on media and entertainment matters for a mid-sized firm. When I met her she was a partner who had not met origination targets for several years. One reason was lack of resilience; she gave up on opportunities after one or two unreturned phone calls. She needed and took help in developing appropriate standards for measuring success. She learned that an unreturned phone call did not mean a lack of interest, that a client who turns you down for one matter isn’t lost forever and many other interpretations of events that built her resilience. She now is a solid producer of new work. A single mother, Kate was driven to succeed, even though she lacked many of the traits at first that Dr. Richards identified.

    I fear that people like Kate will score poorly on such a test and be witten off as unsuited to become rainmakers. That would be an injustice to them and a loss for their firms.

    Ford Harding

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