Best variables to measure quality of firm culture?

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Anonymous User
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Best variables to measure quality of firm culture?

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Feb 01, 2015 2:14 am

What are the best objective variables to measure quality of firm culture? My thought was to find data on attrition.
It's likely that the firms are sending their happiest associates to interview during call backs, creating a rosier picture of firm life than reality. I'm interested in finding firms where the number of 'crazy partners' is as low as possible, while the number of 'supportive partners who care about your professional development' is as high as possible.

I've recently thought to find data on associate attrition as a way to examine the quality of firm culture, under the theory that happier/more content associates are less likely to leave. But the alternative explanation is that law firms where associates have fewer exit options means associates can't leave and thus we have lower attrition rates. However, is it likely that an associates at Skadden LA (with 0% attrition) have no exit options?

Data on attrition: http://betterlegalprofession.org/Attrition/Socal

Of course, we have the vault rankings, but it's disconcerting that the rankings are so volatile from year to year and it's based on very subjective data.

Would be curious to hear others thoughts on this.

desertlaw
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Re: Best variables to measure quality of firm culture?

Postby desertlaw » Sun Feb 01, 2015 2:33 am

Objective variables are going to be hard to find, but generally speaking, my friends and I felt like a firm with higher PPP meant worse quality of life for their associates, everything else being equal.

I don't think attrition rate is a good measurement even though I understand your logic. I'm at a great office with great culture but plenty of people have left for great in-house jobs (and still say how much they miss the "culture" of the office).

Other objective variables that maybe you can determine on your callback/research/summer (some in jest but most here are things that can give you some sense): how many attorneys are married and/or have kids; how many people work in the office (as opposed to from home) after 7 p.m.; how many minutes does it take for an attorney e-mail you back when you're a 1L with questions about the office; does the firm have a basketball/softball team that attorneys participate in; what is average commute into work each day; how far away are the beaches/mountains/vacation spot from the office; does the firm have subsidized breakfast or lunch every day or weekly; how often do attorneys get together socially outside the office.

All that being said, culture is really going to be about your individual preferences. You might want to be at a firm where everyone's social life is away from their co-workers, whereas other people might want an office where they are best friends with their co-workers. There's not many real "objective" quantifiable measurements that can be made in terms of the quality of the culture. The best advice is to see if you feel comfortable with those people during your callback/recruiting process. What is comfortable for you will probably be different than what others desire, so you're not going to find the right answer on NAALP or TLS, but rather inside of your heart.

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Desert Fox
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Re: Best variables to measure quality of firm culture?

Postby Desert Fox » Sun Feb 01, 2015 2:35 am

Anonymous User wrote:What are the best objective variables to measure quality of firm culture? My thought was to find data on attrition.
It's likely that the firms are sending their happiest associates to interview during call backs, creating a rosier picture of firm life than reality. I'm interested in finding firms where the number of 'crazy partners' is as low as possible, while the number of 'supportive partners who care about your professional development' is as high as possible.

I've recently thought to find data on associate attrition as a way to examine the quality of firm culture, under the theory that happier/more content associates are less likely to leave. But the alternative explanation is that law firms where associates have fewer exit options means associates can't leave and thus we have lower attrition rates. However, is it likely that an associates at Skadden LA (with 0% attrition) have no exit options?

Data on attrition: http://betterlegalprofession.org/Attrition/Socal

Of course, we have the vault rankings, but it's disconcerting that the rankings are so volatile from year to year and it's based on very subjective data.

Would be curious to hear others thoughts on this.


Attrition would be a valuable metric, however, you aren't even close to measuring attrition in your chart. You are merely tracking headcount. Lateral hiring fucks your analysis up.

Also you picked a bad time to look attrition. 2009 SA was hit hard during the recession.

Finally, wouldn't you want to use 2011 Associates - (2010 SA + 2010 Associates)?

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JohannDeMann
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Re: Best variables to measure quality of firm culture?

Postby JohannDeMann » Sun Feb 01, 2015 3:16 am

The easiest and best place to start is is the firm in NYC or not.

shock259
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Re: Best variables to measure quality of firm culture?

Postby shock259 » Sun Feb 01, 2015 12:37 pm

There is very little go on. Try to get a sense of the people in the group you want to go into. Some groups are horrible at firms that are otherwise great. Some groups are great at firms that are otherwise horrible. The personalities of the people you will actually be working with is by the far the most important thing. And that's not an objective thing.

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Re: Best variables to measure quality of firm culture?

Postby Pikappraider » Sun Feb 01, 2015 1:26 pm

Not an associate yet but from what I've gathered on here from people who are, the practice group matters much more than the firm. A good practice group with solid partners at a firm known for crazy hours would be better than a shitty group with sociopathic partners at a "lifestyle" firm. Unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be any way to figure this out ahead of time and it's pretty much a crapshoot.

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JohannDeMann
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Re: Best variables to measure quality of firm culture?

Postby JohannDeMann » Mon Feb 02, 2015 12:43 am

Pikappraider wrote:Not an associate yet but from what I've gathered on here from people who are, the practice group matters much more than the firm. A good practice group with solid partners at a firm known for crazy hours would be better than a shitty group with sociopathic partners at a "lifestyle" firm. Unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be any way to figure this out ahead of time and it's pretty much a crapshoot.


this is true. gotta be very general. generally - the higher the vault ranking the more of a sweatshop it is, you work more hours in unspecialized groups (corp and lit work more than tax and IP), and the larger the city the more of a sweatshop it is. new yorkers bill more than ppl in chicago who bill more than people in grand rapids.

KidStuddi
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Re: Best variables to measure quality of firm culture?

Postby KidStuddi » Tue Feb 03, 2015 2:22 pm

shock259 wrote:There is very little go on. Try to get a sense of the people in the group you want to go into. Some groups are horrible at firms that are otherwise great. Some groups are great at firms that are otherwise horrible. The personalities of the people you will actually be working with is by the far the most important thing. And that's not an objective thing.


This is the best answer. Unless you're considering an office with less than 30-40 attorneys, there is just no way you can get a sense of the "firm's culture" that will reliably predict your experiences working there. The best approximation you can get is to target your "lifestyle" questions at the people who do the exact work you want / expect to do. Unfortunately, for the vast majority of rising 2Ls, that answer is "litigation" or "corporate" and neither answer will tell you much (other than corporate folks probably have worse hours than commercial litigators).

kaiser
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Re: Best variables to measure quality of firm culture?

Postby kaiser » Tue Feb 03, 2015 2:26 pm

Attrition would generally be a good metric for deciphering employee satisfaction. However, a bad economy can skew the usefulness of those figures. During tough ecnomic years, far fewer people leave since so few other places are hiring, and they are just clinging to their job to get out of debt. In a better economy, people shift around more often. So if a firm maintains a very low attrition rate during booming economic times, then you know its reliable. But the economy hasn't exactly been booming in recent years.




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