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A new approach to talent management in law firms : Integrating performance appraisal and assessment center data

Susana Almeida Lopes (Faculty of Psychology, University of Lisbon, Lisbon, Portugal)
Jorge Miguel Gonçalves Sarraguça (Department of Chemical Science, Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Porto, Porto, Portugal)
João Almeida Lopes (Department of Chemical Science, Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Porto, Porto, Portugal)
Maria Eduarda Duarte (Faculty of Psychology, University of Lisbon, Lisbon, Portugal)

International Journal of Productivity and Performance Management

ISSN: 1741-0401

Article publication date: 13 April 2015

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to propose a new approach to talent management that consists of averaging performance appraisal and assessment center ratings for in-depth identification of lawyers’ talents.

Design/methodology/approach

The approach’s adjustment was examined using a 61 senior-lawyer sample from a Portuguese law firm. Comparisons between assessment center and performance appraisal ratings were analyzed using paired-sample t-tests and a kernel density function, and predictive validity was assessed with Pearson correlations. Evidence of both a general performance factor and two additional factors was verified using principal component analysis. Varimax rotation was used to verify three broad factors with job profile’s three broad areas.

Findings

Results suggest support for the assessment center’s predictive validity. Its lower and more variable ratings overcome performance appraisal rating bias. Adjustment of the new approach to lawyers’ overall talent identification (the general factor) and each lawyer’s relative talents (three broad factors) was observed.

Research limitations/implications

This study contributes to the body of knowledge regarding the substantive existence of a general performance factor, and adds to empirical research concerning talent management, which is lacking. However, generalizability requires broader samples and replication.

Practical implications

The approach is a methodology that informs career management, high-flyers’ identification, talent mapping, development, succession planning, team composition, and diversity analysis. For lawyers, objective feedback allows benchmarking talent and managing one’s career.

Originality/value

This study pioneers empirical research that develops methods for identifying talent in law firms, vital for firm sustainability.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The authors appreciate the very helpful insights and comments of Rainer Kurz, Saville Consulting’s Research Director on earlier versions of this paper. Susana Almeida Lopes appreciates Rainer Kurz personal support for complex data interpretation and Saville Consulting’s support to her PhD, regarding free tool use and training.

Citation

Lopes, S.A., Sarraguça, J.M.G., Lopes, J.A. and Duarte, M.E. (2015), "A new approach to talent management in law firms : Integrating performance appraisal and assessment center data ", International Journal of Productivity and Performance Management, Vol. 64 No. 4, pp. 523-543. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJPPM-08-2013-0147

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited