Legal Career Tips: Preparing for a Performance Review, Part One

It's almost that time of year when many of us start to prepare for annual performance reviews. While I'm sure there are quite a few legal professionals -- and their managers -- who would prefer to skip this annual evaluation altogether, performance reviews play a major role in a law office's talent management process. A great review just might lead to a promotion, a bump in salary, or at least provide an opportunity to negotiate more compensation and benefits in your legal job. 

So rather than leave the majority of the discussion up to your legal manager, you should take the time to prepare in advance. Use the process as a time to shine by following these three tips:

1. Name your accomplishments. Put together a record of your achievements and activities since your last review. This includes every instance in which you met a milestone or reached a benchmark, as well as any recognition you or your work received. Mention any certifications you’ve attained, and testimonials or thank-you notes from colleagues or clients. Also list the times when you went above and beyond by taking on extra projects or doing more than what your legal job description required.

2. List your goals. Performance reviews aren’t just about reflecting on the past; they’re also about looking forward. Prepare for this part of your review by including in your self-review a list of goals for your career and how you plan to achieve those goals within your firm or company. Bringing a game plan to the review will demonstrate to your manager that you are engaged, dedicated and intend to stay.  

3. Acknowledge areas of improvement. Everyone has strengths and weaknesses. Before your performance review, conduct your own private self-evaluation. Take a look at your legal job description and consider which skills could use honing, or how you might have achieved better results on certain projects. Come up with a few suggestions as to how you plan to step up your game -- improving your practice area expertise or technical proficiency by enrolling in a CLE program or taking a law office technology training course within the next three months, for example.


What if you prepare in advance, call out all of your accomplishments and your performance evaluation isn't as stellar as you anticipated? Read our suggestions for handling negative feedback in Part Two.

Tags: Legal Jobs