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Best Practice: Managing performance reviews

By John W. Olmstead, MBA, Ph.D, CMC

Q. We are a firm is a 15-attorney firm in Kansas City, Missouri. Our management committee is charged with the responsibility of determining partner, associate and staff compensation. Several years ago we switched to a competency based, goal driven system for partners, associates, and staff. The system requires self-evaluations, peer evaluations for partners and associates, and self-evaluations. This requires extensive performance reviews, tracking, scheduling, and documentation. We are using Excel spreadsheets and MS Word documents and having a hard time managing all of this. Do you have any ideas?

A. With 15 attorneys you probably have close to 30 people in the firm. I would look into performance management software (performance appraisal software) to management the process. Typical features of performance management/appraisal software, depending on the vendor, include:

  • 360 degree feedback
  • Ad-hoc reviews
  • Alerts and reminders
  • Appraisal history and tracking
  • Goal setting and tracking
  • Compensation management
  • Competency tracking
  • Custom rating scales
  • Individual development plans
  • Peer appraisals
  • Review cycle tracking
  • Self-guided portal
  • Self-appraisals

Some vendors offer cloud-based solutions and others offer install software solutions. Just a few of the vendors include:

  • Halogen
  • Performance Pro
  • Trakstar
  • Micron
  • Reviewsnap

Some of these solutions can be pricey - so look into a solution is right-sized for your firm. I have firm's your size using solutions that are costing around $3,000 per year.

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John W. Olmstead, MBA, Ph.D, CMC, ( is a past chair and member of the ISBA Standing Committee on Law Office Management and Economics and author of The Lawyers Guide to Succession Planning published by the ABA. For more information on law office management please direct questions to the ISBA listserver, which John and other committee members review, or view archived copies of The Bottom Line Newsletters. Contact John at

Posted on June 15, 2016 by Chris Bonjean
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