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Should Your Firm Drop Performance Reviews?

One of the world's largest law firms has stopped performance reviews, at the same time leading the way against evaluations that have disfavored women in the past.

Allen & Overy, a London-based firm with more than 2,800 attorneys worldwide, piloted a program last October to dialogue with employees rather than formally appraise them. It started at offices in London, Singapore, and the Middle East, but the firm will expand the program to more offices this year.

"The feedback on this has been positive, particularly in engaging with female associates on their career development," said Elizabeth Mercer, the firm's public relations manager. "We didn't do it originally to retain female talent, but the positive feedback has been noticeable."

The law is one of the whitest professions around, but if you want to be 'friended' by Facebook (legally speaking), you may have to improve your diversity game.

The social media giant is only hiring outside law firms where women and ethnic minorities make up at least a third of the team. The move is just one way big corporate clients are trying to reshape the firms they work with, whether through demanding a less homogenous workforce or urging firms to adopt new technologies.

Making time for family, traveling the world on vacation, disconnecting from the office, and keeping up your health and exercise -- these are all things lawyers tend to struggle with. With the pressures of a legal career, many lawyers spend a lot more time grinding out billable hours than they spend on themselves.

Of course, we all wish we had a better work/life balance, right? Well, maybe not. When it comes to perks that could make lawyers' lives a bit more balanced, many of those perks are going unused.

Workplace Perks That Lawyers Actually Want

What do you really want?

It's a question that sometimes comes up in the crisis stage of a relationship. One partner feels inadequate or frustrated, and the other is stifled about communicating his feelings.

Maybe I'm getting too personal here, but the point is that sometimes lawyers don't seem to know what they want professionally either. Because the attorney-employer relationship shouldn't be a guessing game, here are some perks attorneys actually want:

The Challenge of Lawyers Seeking Accommodations for Disabilities

Working from a wheelchair, trial lawyer Carol Steinberg strained to hear the judge as she met in a sidebar with opposing counsel. She could not see the judge because of the elevated bench, and instead sat face-to-face with a wooden panel.

"As I stared at that wood in front of me, with the angry voice of my opponent and the obliging voice of the young judge above, I had one recurring thought: Maybe it's time to do something else," she recalled. "I felt I had no business trying a case in a wheelchair."

Steingberg recently chronicled her challenges as a disabled lawyer in an opinion piece for the New York Times. She has tried 50 cases, despite the obstacles from multiple sclerosis over the past 12 years. Like many disabled attorneys, it has been a battle of accommodation if not discrimination.

Make Your Law Firm a Great Place to Work

If you can't wait to get to the office, you probably work at a great law firm.

If you feel like your co-workers are trusted friends, you probably work at a great law firm.

If you don't care about how much money you're making, you probably work at a great law firm.

Whether you are an employee or an employer, there are some sure signs that you work at a great law firm. Making the firm great depends more on the people than the practice area or any other common denominator in the workplace. It's not about firm development; it's about people development.

Here are some tips:

Whether you're a Boomer or a Gen Xer, a Millennial or a Korean War vet, if you're running a legal practice today, you're probably working with people from across three or four generations. That's because there are currently four distinct generations in the American workplace, with the youngest generation, Millennials born between the early 1980s and 2000s, now making up the largest chunk of the workforce.

Each generation brings with it unique characteristics and perspectives that can add value to your practice -- or catch you completely off guard. Thankfully, Sally Kane, an attorney and writer, recently surveyed how to manage, and hopefully to benefit from, these multigenerational differences in The Balance. Here's some of the best tips, broken down by generation.

The legal industry is one of the least racially diverse professions in America. And even though more women than ever are graduating from law schools, men still dominate the legal practice in terms of pay and partner positions. When it comes to the law, the good old boys' club remains strong.

This isn't news. The legal industry has long struggled to address the lack of diversity in its ranks, with mixed results. Here are some ways those efforts can be improved.

Lawyer's High Profile Gender Discrimination Lawsuit Settles

She said she was pregnant. Her boss responded:

"I guess these things happen. I suppose we have your honeymoon to blame for this?"

Between good friends it might have been uncomfortably funny, but between an associate attorney and her superior at a big law firm, not so much. It led to a gender bias lawsuit that has settled.

Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo, a Massachusetts firm with more than 300 lawyers, announced it settled the case. Kamee Verdrager, who formerly worked at the Boston-based firm, filed her discrimination complaint in 2007. The firm denied any wrongdoing, but settled after an adverse ruling by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court in May that would have sent the case to trial.

Tips for Using a Third Party to Help With Your Job Search

If you're looking for an attorney job, maybe you should stay away from the headhunters because you'll need that head in the future. I speak from personal experience because my head was hunted once by a job recruiter and I barely got out alive.

To be serious, job recruiters surely provide a valuable service to law firms and companies looking for specific lawyers. That's why they get the big bucks, which headhunters apparently charge for finding those attorneys. It's typically a 30 percent contingency fee of the new hire's salary.

Carol Kanarek, a lawyer, psychotherapist, and author, explains that search firms are used only by those law firms and companies that are seeking lawyers with very specific expertise. "Consequently, if you are seeking a change in practice focus, or are looking for a non-legal job, a search firm won't be able to help you."