During survey design, we opted to divide the 147 foundations into 15 categories to create a more respondent-friendly survey experience. Analysis of the responses to each foundation by category provides an excellent lens through which to view the full survey results.
For each survey item within each of the categories listed below, we asked survey respondents to indicate whether the foundation was:
- “Necessary immediately for the new lawyer’s success in the short term” (where “new lawyer” was defined as “someone embarking on their first year of law-related work”);
- “Not necessary in the short term but must be acquired for the lawyer’s continued success over time;”
- “Not necessary at any point but advantageous to the lawyer’s success;” or
- “Not relevant to success.”(11)
- Business Development and Relations
- Emotional and Interpersonal Intelligence
- Involvement and Community Service
- Legal Thinking and Application
- Litigation Practice
- Passion and Ambition
- Professional Development
- Qualities and Talents
- Stress and Crisis Management
- Technology and Innovation
- Transaction Practice
- Working with Others
- Workload Management
Business Development and Relations
Of the seven items in the Business Development and Relations category(12), the ability to retain existing business was seen as the most important foundation to have right out of law school by a fairly wide margin (38%; the next highest proportion being 17%). All but two of the foundations in this category—having an entrepreneurial mindset (45%) and engaging in marketing or fundraising activities (44%)—were seen by a majority of respondents as necessary either in the short term or to be acquired over time.
Figure 1: Business Development and Relations Responses
By and large, foundations in the Communications(13) category were considered necessary in the short term by a majority of respondents—with the abilities to listen (92%) and promptly respond (91%) being the foundations most often identified as such. Notably, about two-thirds (68%) of respondents considered fluency in a language other than English to be advantageous but not necessary, while about one-quarter (26%) viewed this foundation as not relevant.
Figure 2: Communications Responses
Emotional and Interpersonal Intelligence
Of the six foundations within the Emotional and Interpersonal Intelligence category(14), five were considered to be necessary in the short term by more than two-thirds of respondents. Respondents viewed the ability to treat others with courtesy and respect as the most important foundation for success right out of law school by a fairly wide margin (92%; the next highest proportion being 80%). Only 30% of respondents classified the ability to read others and understand their subtle cues as necessary in the short term, however, more than half (56%) saw it as a foundation to be acquired over time—indicating that this ability is indeed needed, but not immediately out of law school.
Figure 3: Emotional and Interpersonal Intelligence Responses
Involvement and Community Service
Respondents tended to view foundations in the Involvement and Community Service(15) category as advantageous but not necessary. This is especially true for those foundations that directly address more concrete notions of involvement: volunteer or take on influential positions in the community (56%); be involved in a bar association (56%); participate in voluntary functions or committee work at the firm (48%); and engage in pro bono legal work (47%). The more abstract foundations—maintain a work-life balance, be visible in the office, have a personality that fits the firm—were more often seen as needed either in the short term or over time.
Figure 4: Involvement and Community Service Responses
Legal Thinking and Application
There was a virtual consensus amongst respondents that the Legal Thinking and Application(16) foundations were necessary either right out of law school or should be acquired over time—very low proportions of respondents viewed these foundations as only advantageous or not at all relevant. The ability to effectively research the law was the foundation most often cited as necessary in the short term (84%); the ability to assess possible courses of action and the range of likely outcomes was the foundation most commonly identified as one to be acquired over time (63%).
Figure 5: Legal Thinking and Application Responses
Of the twelve Litigation Practice foundations(18), only three were considered to be necessary in the short term by at least half of respondents: draft pleadings, motions, and briefs (72%); request and produce written discovery (65%); and interview clients and witnesses (50%). Still, respondents clearly see these foundations as important for success in practice, as all foundations in this category were identified as either necessary in the short term or to be acquired over time by at least 65% of respondents.
Figure 6: Litigation Practice Responses
Passion and Ambition
For the most part, respondents considered foundations within the Passion and Ambition(19) category to be necessary right out of law school. In fact, with one exception, a majority of respondents identified these foundations as necessary in the short term; having a passion for public service tends to be viewed as advantageous but not necessary (43%), rather than needed either in the short term or over time.
Figure 7: Passion and Ambition Responses
Generally, respondents tended to view foundations in the Professional Development(20) category as necessary in the short term, with taking individual responsibility for actions and results being the foundation most commonly identified as necessary right out of law school (82%). There were two marked exceptions. Almost three-quarters (74%) of respondents considered the development of expertise in a particular area as something that must be acquired over time. Authoring articles or giving presentations was seen by about two-thirds (63%) as a foundation that is advantageous, but not necessary.
Figure 8: Professional Development Responses
Within the Professionalism(21) category, the vast majority of respondents were in agreement that the foundations were necessary either in the short term or to be acquired over time. Indeed, there were three foundations which more than nine out of ten respondents identified as necessary in the short term: keep information confidential (96%); arrive on time for meetings, appointments, and hearings (95%); and honor commitments (93%). However, almost one-quarter (23%) of respondents thought adhering to proper collections practices was not relevant.
Figure 9: Professionalism Responses
Qualities and Talents
Of the twenty-four foundations in the Qualities and Talents(22) category, a considerable seventeen were considered necessary in the short term by a majority of respondents, with eight of those being considered so by more than three-quarters of respondents. Notably, none of the foundations in this category were considered not relevant by more than 4% of respondents.
Figure 10: Qualities and Talents Responses
Stress and Crisis Management
The respondents clearly valued foundations in the Stress and Crisis Management(23) category. Nine out of ten indicated all five of these foundations were needed either right out of law school or must be acquired over time.
Figure 11: Stress and Crisis Management Responses
Technology and Innovation
Three of the four Technology and Innovation(24) foundations were classified as necessary in the short term by one quarteror less of respondents; however, a majority (58%) of respondents did consider the ability to learn and use relevant technologies effectively as necessary right out of law school. Conversely, engaging in online law-related professional activity and networking was seen by a majority (52%) as advantageous, but not necessary.
Figure 12: Technology and Innovation Responses
In the Transaction Practice(26) category, seven out of the thirteen foundations were viewed by a majority of respondents as abilities that must be acquired over time. There were two foundations, however, that were seen as necessary in the short term by half or more of respondents: prepare client responses (51%) and draft contracts and agreements (50%).
Figure 13: Transaction Practice Responses
Working with Others
Four of the seven foundations in the Working with Others(27) category were identified as necessary in the short term by at least half of respondents. Notably, nearly three in four respondents (73%) indicated that the ability to work collaboratively as part of a team was necessary in the short term. While generally viewed as necessary either in the short- or long-term (76%), leadership had the highest percentage of respondents indicating that it was advantageous but not necessary (22%).
Figure 14: Working with Others Responses
All nine foundations related to Workload Management(28) were viewed as necessary either immediately out of law school or in the first years of practice, but only three were identified as necessary in the short term by a majority of respondents: prioritize and manage multiple tasks (73%), maintain a high-quality work product (72%), and see a case or project through from start to finish (54%).
Figure 15: Workload Management Responses
11. For the sake of efficiency, these options are referred to below as necessary in the short term, must be acquired over time, advantageous but not necessary, and not relevant.
12. Cronbach’s alpha = 0.8963. Cronbach’s alpha allows us to estimate the internal consistency of each of the 15 categories as individual subscales within the larger survey. In other words, the higher the Cronbach’s alpha (i.e., the closer to 1), the more confident we can be that items within the category truly do measure the same construct.
13. Cronbach’s alpha = 0.7159
14. Cronbach’s alpha = 0.7838
15. Cronbach’s alpha = 0.7735
16. Cronbach’s alpha = 0.8537
17. Questions in this section were presented only to lawyers who indicated they had a litigation practice.
18. Cronbach’s alpha = 0.8726
19. Cronbach’s alpha = 0.7776
20. Cronbach’s alpha = 0.7701
21. Cronbach’s alpha = 0.8050
22. Cronbach’s alpha = 0.8951
23. Cronbach’s alpha = 0.8224
24. Cronbach’s alpha = 0.6883
25. Questions in this section were presented only to lawyers who indicated they had a transaction practice.
26. Cronbach’s alpha = 0.8732
27. Cronbach’s alpha = 0.7656
28. Cronbach’s alpha = 0.7370