The fourth quarter of every year is invariably rife with gossip as to the anticipated year-end fortunes for law firms and the fate of their lawyers–up and down in the food chain.
There is no other time during the year, in which the flow of information is as fast or as furious, and prone to unreliability. It reminds of the critical role and inherent hazards of gossip, if unchecked.
Indeed, megabytes of data, more often than not, are surrounded by tidbits of gossip; the latter is the most dangerous common denominator in the chain of intelligence that defines negotiations and hiring decisions.
When it comes to the assessment of gossip, EOLIS consultants live by 6 basic commandments:
1. Keep notes contemporaneously on the gossiper’s tidbits.
2. Determine the gossiper’s motivation in giving the information.
3. Maintain records on proven accuracy of the gossiper’s information.
4. Question the gossiper’s access points.
5. Probe the gossiper’s knowledge of his/her sources.
6. Inquire as much about the gossiper as the gossip provided.
In evaluating information for clients concerning the credentials, and experiences, and reputation of lawyers and law firms, the foundation is built on verifiable facts (law school, degree verification, Bar admission validation, confirmation of employment, clients, duration of the relationship and other concrete data), but ultimately it is the evaluation of opinions and the interpretation of information provided, that must be effectively integrated to produce well-reasoned decisions in hiring a lawyer or a law firm. The treatment of gossip by all those in the process is as critical as the black and white data that can be instantly verified.