Law Firms Using Moneyball Strategies?
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America’s pastime, the game of baseball, has been around for more than a century and is steeped in rich tradition. Not much has changed in terms of the rules of the game since its inception but the way players are selected and developed by organizations has changed. The reason behind the change is former Major League player and current Oakland Athletics general manager Billy Beane. By using data, whether it is a lot or a little, teams could find players to build a championship team around without paying too much money for the players.

So what does this have to do with law firms? The answer is simple; is it possible for law firms to employ these same strategies in their everyday operations even though they hold their traditions near and dear to their hearts much like the game of baseball does. There have been companies, such as Xerox and IBM, that have used these strategies to operate successfully long before the Athletics put these strategies into action.


Some of the traits that law firms use to examine prospective employees include the following:

  • grades
  • law review
  • clerkships
  • law school
  • blue or pink collar work experience
  • advanced degrees
  • publications
  • participation in team sports

Most law firms value a prospective employee’s grades so much that they are overlooking the candidate’s other values. For example, home runs are very important in the game of baseball but they do not tell the whole story of a player, which is why Moneyball strategies are effective in the game. For a law firm to use Moneyball strategies when it comes to hiring and developing lawyers, the firm would need to keep scores or stats on each lawyer it hires. The stats can be divided into two categories, one of which being the billable hours the lawyers work during the week. The other category would be the lawyer’s intangibles; such as interpersonal skills, initiative, and problem solving.

Many law firms, if they employ the Moneyball strategies, can have an enormous return on investment (ROI) in the end. For example, if a law firm hires 10 mid level ‘A’ players instead of 10 upper level ‘C’ players to its firm it will add anywhere from $2 million to $5 million to its bottom line by the end of the year. The money estimates only include profit brought into the company. They do not include how much time and money will be saved by upper management not having to correct reports by employees or delegate work to others to be fixed because ‘C’ players did not finish the work correctly the first time.

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There are some law firms across the country already employing the Moneyball strategies in their daily operations in order to make more money and save time by hiring the most competent employees available to them. These forward-thinking law firms are ahead of the game and ahead of their competition in their local markets.


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