Bruce MacEwen, great as ever, on assessing the quality of legal representation in the general counsel / big firm context:

On a 1 to 5 score, from unacceptable through mediocre, good, and very good to excellent, the criteria [for evaluating all lawyers a company uses] are:

  • Understood client’s goals
  • Expertise
  • Efficiency
  • Responsiveness
  • Predictive accuracy (about budget and results); and
  • Effectiveness.

Then there is the uber-question:  "Would you recommend that we use this attorney/firm for similar work in the future?"

Really, what more do you need to know to assess performance? Any more ‘detail’ would be an illusion — legal representation is too complicated for more precision.

There’s nothing limiting this approach to corporation / business legal representation. Use it in a personal injury practice. You can assess your own expertise, among others, and your effectiveness. Then, after a while, look at the data itself, not just your recollection that you’ve done well on, say, corporate negligence claims.

The beauty of self-assessments, usually real data, is that they never fail to reveal something surprising. Perhaps a particular type of case or a particular client makes you far less efficient — what would happen if you stopping taking those cases and focused on your strengths?