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Testing For Rainmakers

From law school finals to bar exams, lawyers routinely -- and in my view, foolishly -- place their faith in one-time test results rather than performance to judge merit.  But now an article in The Lawyers Weekly (Canada) reports on one exam that actually make sense:  a test for whether a lawyer has the talent to make it as a rainmaker.

According to the article, Dr. Larry Richard, a lawyer-psychologist and director of Hildebrandt International's Leadership and Organization Development program, has developed a test based on the Caliper Profile, a multiple-choice test that uses 18 base personality traits to assess a lawyer's rainmaking skills.  Richard explains the five key traits of successful rainmakers:

First, they have ego drive. "They like to persuade people," Dr. Richard says. They achieve ego gratification by convincing others to adopt their position or buy their product or services.

Second, they score high on empathy. Rainmakers can see other people's perspective on an issue. "They're good at understanding how the buyer is thinking," Dr. Richard says.

Third, they demonstrate resilience. Rainmakers don't get defensive or hurt when they're rejected. Rather they view rejection as a challenge.

Fourth, they tend to be service minded. Rainmakers are natural salespeople, with a desire to help others.

Fifth, they possess conscientiousness. Rainmakers are disciplined and methodical in their approach to selling. To illustrate this point, Dr. Richard says that when a rainmaker sets out to attract clients, they will commit to contacting a certain number of clients each day. They won't be deterred if only a handful of contacts produce leads or work. "They are disciplined about doing it, even if it can be unpleasant."

Though Richard cautions against using the Caliper test as a way to select lawyers for employment, he believes the test has other uses.  For example, firms might use the test to corroborate perceptions gleaned during the interview process or to identify and coach potential law firm rainmakers.

Because many lawyers either disdain rainmaking or aren't very good at it, using a test to cull the best prospects makes sense.  Instead of spending thousands of dollars on rainmaking programs for lawyers who aren't willing to learn or implement the lessons, firms could divert resources to those lawyers who enjoy rainmaking and hold the most potential for success. 

So are law firms using the Caliper test to identify rainmakers, and if not, why not?  What do you think?

Posted by Carolyn Elefant on August 18, 2008 at 03:36 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)

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