I almost don’t want to write about this because I know how many law firm managers and industry consultants read this site. If you are a person of any authority at an American law firm, or even if you aspire to be such a person, please stop reading this post. We’ll consider it an Above the Law honor code violation is you read any further.

Okay, for all the rest of you, we need to tell you that on the other side of the pond, they are pioneering new ways to turn a lawyer’s sense of shame and fear of failure into more money for the firm. Roll on Friday (gavel bang: Golden Practices Blog) reports that a European law firm has started utilizing computers that change color depending on how productive you are.

Seriously, what’s next? A computer that delivers an electric shock every time you log onto Facebook?

Just imagine showing up for work on the first day of a month, and turning on your machine only to have it glow red in a way that is visible to everybody who walks by your workstation. That’s what associates at this firm could be dealing with. Roll on Friday reports:

Lawyers at Reynolds Porter Chamberlain can tell how effectively their colleagues are billing from the colour of their computer screens.

An insider complains that the firm has inserted a “nifty programme” on associates’ computers which changes the colour of the screens depending on how profitable they are. Red means they’re losing the firm money, yellow means they’re doing OK but must try harder, and green means that the key to the partnership washroom is within grasp. And given that the firm has open plan offices, everyone can check out everyone else’s performance…

A spokesman confirmed that colour coding was used, but said this was an “award-winning* system” that was designed to enable lawyers to “develop their commerciality, and understand the work they’re doing and the amount of time they’re spending on it”.

This doesn’t seem like the kind of thing you need an advanced system to accomplish. This is Europe, after all. Why don’t they just pillory underperforming associates every month? Or a good old-fashioned public flogging?

Making people live in the community saddled with a scarlet computer seems a little too “new world” to me.

Exclusive: RPC lawyers publicly shamed if they don’t bill enough [Roll on Friday]
Law Firm Adopts High-Tech Scarlet Letter to Motivate [Golden Practices]


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