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Defining Competence in Legal Practice: Report of a National Survey of Solo and Small Firm Practitioners LSAC NSF

Carlson, Alfred B.; Powell, Ramon J.
Publication Year:
Report Number:
ETS Research Bulletin
Document Type:
Page Count:
Subject/Key Words:
American Bar Foundation, Association of American Law Schools, Law School Admission Council (LSAC), National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE), National Science Foundation (NSF), Evaluation Criteria, Lawyers, Performance Factors, Professional Occupations, Sampling, Surveys


As a part of a project concerned with identifying factors that are considered in evaluating the performance of attorneys working in organizations employing large mumber of lawyers, a national sample of solo and small firm practitioners was asked to rate the appraisal factors used by large organizations with respect to their appropriateness in evaluating the performance of attorneys in practices like theirs. The sample was also asked to rate (1) the degree of importance of selected skills or tasks to their own practice situations, (2) the level of difficulty of various problems in terms of accomplishing what should be done in their practice, and (3) the degree of importance of certain deficiencies of other lawyers based on their assessment of how other lawyers perform. All of the large organization evaluation factors were felt to be at least "probably appropriate" by more than two-thirds of the respondents. Overall, the results suggest that there is a set of skills and characteristics that a majority of the sample considers important to competent practice, with relatively few variations based on practice setting, region, type of practice, data of admission to the bar, and firm size. (38pp.)

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