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It’s no mistake that the title of this article draws from the language of finance. While law firms implemented written self-evaluations to look beyond the numbers and to provide context for other reviews, self-evaluations remain critical to some pretty important numbers. Those numbers include salary, bonus and years to partnership promotion. The self-evaluation process is an important component of many law firms’ performance evaluation and compensation systems, but studies of the legal industry show that women generally do not do it as well as men do. This article does not endeavor to explain those studies, but instead to share some best practices for making the most of the self-evaluation process. These pointers — which, we should add, are nearly all gender-neutral — come from four Reed Smith women attorneys with varying levels of experience. The common thread is that we have all written many self-evaluations (and some of us have read many, as well).

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