Talent Systems for Law Firms

PD Quarterly, February 2017

Indiana Legal Studies Research Paper No. 368

10 Pages Posted: 27 Feb 2017 Last revised: 2 Mar 2017

See all articles by William D. Henderson

William D. Henderson

Indiana University Maurer School of Law

Date Written: February 1, 2017


Virtually every large US law firm owes its rise and success to a talent system it adopted several decades ago. These talent systems were effective because they created highly skilled business lawyers in a way that aligned the interests of partners, associates, and clients. The most prominent example is the Cravath System, though other business lawyers throughout the US were making similar discoveries at roughly the same time. The tremendous forward momentum of these first-generation talent systems has created the problem of ahistorical partners — owners who collect the late-stage benefits of a talent system approach without understanding its original logic or discipline. However, as law firms enter a period of industry consolidation, law firm leaders are destined to rediscover the power of a talent system approach. Law firm talent management professionals are destined to serve a key role in this transition.

Keywords: Law Firms, Human Capital, Talent Systems, Partner, Associate, Cravath

JEL Classification: L40, M12, J01, J24, L25, J44

Suggested Citation

Henderson, William D., Talent Systems for Law Firms (February 1, 2017). PD Quarterly, February 2017, Indiana Legal Studies Research Paper No. 368, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2923854

William D. Henderson (Contact Author)

Indiana University Maurer School of Law ( email )

211 S. Indiana Avenue
Bloomington, IN 47405
United States
812-856-1788 (Phone)
812-855-0555 (Fax)

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