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2017 PD Quarterly 5 (Feb. 2017)


irtually every large US law firm owes its rise and success to a talent system it adopted several decades ago. These talent systems were effective because they created highly skilled business lawyers in a way that aligned the interests of partners, associates, and clients. The most prominent example is the Cravath System, though other business lawyers throughout the US were making similar discoveries at roughly the same time. The tremendous forward momentum of these first-generation talent systems has created the problem of ahistorical partners — owners who collect the late-stage benefits of a talent system approach without understanding its original logic or discipline. However, as law firms enter a period of industry consolidation, law firm leaders are destined to rediscover the power of a talent system approach. Law firm talent management professionals are destined to serve a key role in this transition.