For more than a century, baseball has been been known as America’s pastime. Change comes slowly to the game, and tradition is sacred. But as the recent film Moneyball details, one key part of the baseball edifice—the way that teams select and develop their players—has undergone a revolution, thanks to the data-driven approach famously employed by Billy Beane, the general manager of the Oakland A’s.

Beane’s core insight was that the engrained biases of scouts and coaches caused baseball teams to misidentify and misprice talent. With careful attention to data, even a small market team could clobber the competition. Over time, nearly all major league teams have borrowed from the Oakland A’s playbook and won games, even championships, using the Moneyball philosophy. Is it possible for law firms—also tradition-bound institutions—to benefit from a Moneyball approach to talent? Corporations such as IBM, Xerox, and Proctor & Gamble have done so (well before professional sports), why not law firms? As experts in quantitative analysis, legal labor markets, and law firm recruitment, we explored this exact question with multiple law firms. Our findings might surprise you.

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