Richard Susskind provides some excellent questions that a young lawyer can ask in order to gauge a firm’s long-term viability. I wonder, however, how well equipped I would be to assess the quality of the responses. Obviously, you don’t want to meet a blank stare when you ask about long term strategies. A partner should be able to describe an institutionalized structure for strategic planning and a formal process for setting goals and measuring progress. Beyond that, though, I’m not sure that a law student or young lawyer could tell the difference between a brilliant long-term plan and a recipe for disaster. I know I couldn’t. At this point in my legal career, I’m not reading industry magazines; I’m reading case books. And half the time it feels like I still need a decoder ring.
The real value Susskind adds here is in providing the young job hopeful with questions that will send the right signal to prospective employers. Asked to describe “the formal process by which your firm monitors emerging technologies and evaluates their potential,” a partner may not have a ready answer, but he might be impressed by a law student with enough foresight to ask the question.