Happy New year! I am tempted out of my accidental blogging purdah by a genuinely fascinating story in Legal Week on Taylor Wessing’s use of Cosmic Cadet. Cosmic Cadet is not a replacement term for trainee solicitors indicating the uber-global commercial awareness of the modern day law student. No. It is a possibly cringe-worthy test designed to measure (per the maker‘s website):
- Cognition. How an individual processes and uses information to perform mental operations.
- Thinking Style. How an individual tends to approach and appraise problems and make decisions.
- Interpersonal Style. An individual’s preferred approach to interacting with other people.
- Delivering Results. An individual’s drive to cope with challenges and finish a task through to completion.
Potential to innovate
Performance under pressure
No mention of ethics was my first reaction – and remains my strongest one. Risk appetite is likely to be related to ethical inclination and some of the other measures may be too. It would be especially interesting to know what kinds of risk appetite users of the test want. The rather weakly evidenced assumption in the industry is that lawyers are risk averse, in the same way as lawyers are seen as both show-offs and introverts. An interesting part of the test will be the capacity of Arctic and the firms to learn more about the truth of such claims.
Fascinating too would be an explanation of how would-be trainees are supposed to manage uncertainty. There is an uncomfortable impression given by this list of the trainee as a machine, a resilient robot, a chip in the supercomputer that is big law. That’s an unfair impression, I am sure, but it is one which I hope the firms who are thinking along these lines think carefully about. Taylor Wessing, to be clear, seem to be thinking carefully about how the tests integrate with their wider processes of assessment.
Resilient, high performing people are one thing; systems that break them or lead them astray are another. I would not say law firms are broken, but there is plenty of evidence that they can and do lead some people astray. And it is absolutely vital that if firms are thinking along these lines they pay more than lip service to the moral capacities of their candidates and the ethical resilience of their systems and culture. I don’t see that in these tests. Perhaps it is to be found elsewhere.
Postscript: there’s another excellent story on this here http://www.legaltechnology.com/latest-news/gamification-taylor-wessing-using-video-game-to-assess-trainee-aptitude/