Digitalization and Promotion: An Empirical Study in a Large Law Firm

14 Pages Posted: 2 Oct 2014

See all articles by Marion Brivot

Marion Brivot

Université Laval

Helen Lam

Université Laval

Yves Gendron

Université Laval

Date Written: October 2014

Abstract

In law firms, the number of hours that associates work reportedly plays a preponderant role in promotion decisions. We build on previous research in this area by distinguishing the effect of ‘development hours’ from ‘billable hours’ on promotions and by assessing the extent to which billable hours are still important criteria today, in digitalized environments where efficiency is, presumably, likely to matter more than working long hours. We also examine whether certain types of behaviours, like associates' interactions with technology, may be associated directly or indirectly with a higher likelihood of promotion. We studied these questions in the context of a large corporate law firm in continental Europe, focusing on the promotion of 93 lawyers between 2005 and 2010. We found that both billable and development hours are still significant positive predictors of promotions and that associates' ability to use the case firm's computer‐mediated knowledge management system productively is indirectly rewarded by promotion. This research reasserts the fundamental role of billable hours as one of the primary means for evaluating lawyers' work and suggests that using knowledge management systems gives associates an edge in the race for promotion, particularly in law firms moving along the ‘evolutionary path’ of legal service, from bespoke to commoditized work (Susskind, R. (2010). The End of Lawyers? Rethinking the Nature of Legal Services. Oxford: Oxford University Press).

Suggested Citation

Brivot, Marion and Lam, Helen and Gendron, Yves, Digitalization and Promotion: An Empirical Study in a Large Law Firm (October 2014). British Journal of Management, Vol. 25, Issue 4, pp. 805-818, 2014, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2504200 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/1467-8551.12060

Marion Brivot (Contact Author)

Université Laval ( email )

2325, rue de la Terrasse
Quebec, Quebec G1V0A6
Canada
4186562131(ext. 3199) (Phone)

Helen Lam

Université Laval

2214 Pavillon J-A. DeSeve
Quebec, Quebec G1K 7P4
Canada

Yves Gendron

Université Laval ( email )

Faculte des sciences de l'administration
2325 rue de la Terrasse, Local 2636
Quebec City, Quebec G1V 0A6
Canada
418-656-2131 ext. 2431 (Phone)
418-656-7746 (Fax)

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