18 November 2020


Each week I post here a chapter from The KUJI HandbookFor more information about the Handbook, and the ways in which we are transforming how law firms and clients work together, see the description at the end of this article.


In this chapter I discuss how our inability to measure the expertise of lawyers has for centuries been one of the most costly problems in the legal industry. I’ll then show you a science-based solution.

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The Problem

Every lawyer will tell you that what they sell is their legal expertise. But if you were to ask them, “On a scale from 1 to 10, how expert are you?” They will struggle to give you answer. If they do give you a number – 7 and 8 seem to be popular – they’ll still just be guessing.

And that’s a big problem.

From the earliest days, clients have been unable to verify how expert a lawyer or a law firm really is. This has resulted in the use of proxies for gauging expertise, such as high hourly fees, prestigious offices, legal directory rankings and industry awards. But these measures are subjective and unreliable. There is just too little rigour involved. Plus, many lawyers know how to make themselves look better than they really are.

At the same time, there are other lawyers who can offer incredible value for money, but they get overlooked because they don’t play the same game. Even if they’re just as good or even better than their high-charging colleagues, they simply don’t promote themselves as effectively. It’s as if they’re invisible.

As a result, clients can’t be sure of what they’re actually getting. They don’t know whether they’ve found the right lawyers with sufficient expertise, or if they could have found equivalent or better lawyers somewhere else, for less money.

Costly Consequences

Where else are we expected to buy something without being able to see or quantify the essential quality of the thing we’re buying? We think we’re buying legal expertise. That’s what every law firm tells us. But we don’t even know what legal expertise is, let alone know how to measure it.

It’s essentially just blind decision-making.

The problem is that we can’t always just start over again with new lawyers if things fall apart. Since almost every legal case or transaction is a single-shot proposition, we have to live with the consequences of our first – and possibly our only – choice. This makes the stakes extremely high.

Not surprisingly, most professional negligence claims against lawyers arise because the lawyers in question strayed outside their areas of expertise and caused major – and sometimes irreparable – damage to their clients. The temptation of a big pay day and hundreds, or even thousands, of billable hours, can too easily push some lawyers to engage in risky behaviour, with clients ultimately paying the price.

But even on more routine legal work, where clients are simply trying to get better value for their legal spend, using the wrong lawyers, especially those who overstate their capabilities, can too easily lead to excessive legal fees and lost opportunities to get things done properly.

A New Standard

Today, there is a new standard for measuring expertise. One that will tell you independently and impartially, precisely how expert a lawyer or a legal team really is. It’s a simple, science-based standard that uses a system of rating numbers that anyone can understand. And it removes the uncertainty of relying on hearsay or someone’s personal opinion.

This numerical standard eliminates guessing, as well as obfuscation through marketing hype. It provides objective numbers that you can rely on, whether you’re a lawyer, a law firm, or a client.

These rating numbers establish an industry standard and make comparisons between lawyers and decisions about who to hire based on their expertise and a client’s budget, simple and straightforward.

Now when you ask a lawyer how expert they are, they can actually tell you and you can verify – and compare – what you’re getting. Because you’ll finally have access to the data you need to make a truly informed decision.

Using these metrics, clients can now find great value-for-money lawyers who have the capability to get the job done, while avoiding those lawyers who may not even realise themselves that they are either under-qualified or over-priced, or both. And law firms can at last value their lawyers independently and objectively, based on their certified levels of expertise.

The KUJI Rating Scale

So what are these expertise ratings? How do they work? Where did they come from? What can they be used for?

The KUJI Rating Scale is a global system for measuring the expertise of lawyers using cognitive science.

The following chapters will explain the origins, mechanics and applications of KUJI Ratings and Meisterline’s other Professional Expertise Metrics. This information reveals precisely how expert your lawyers really are. With this knowledge you can find better and more cost-effective legal services, and also contribute to improvements in the culture and efficiency of all sizes and types of law firms and legal teams.



The KUJI Handbook is an essential primer for law firm leaders and clients who rely on legal experts. It covers all the core concepts underlying KUJI Ratings and the KUJI Rating Scale, including: The science behind this new standard for measuring legal expertise; what “KUJI” actually means; the practicalities of assessing the expertise of individual lawyers; the cognitive significance of being located within a specific KUJI Band; and, case studies that show how quantifying the expertise of lawyers can lead to more efficient lawyer pricing, measurable improvements in lawyer diversity, a better understanding of position titles in law firms, and invaluable benchmarking data across a wide range of legal service providers.

Peter Macmillan is one of the world’s leading authorities on the cognitive development of professional expertise. A former lawyer, he is Founder and CEO of Meisterline Analytics, creator of the KUJI® Rating System, and author of The KUJI Handbook and Unlocking the Secrets of Legal Genius: Measuring Specialist Legal Expertise Through Think-Aloud Verbal Protocol Analysis. Peter began his legal career as a Competition Law specialist in 1992. He went on to work for major corporate law firms and government authorities in both Australia and Hong Kong. In 2006, Peter resigned as Head of Competition Law at an international law firm and went on to complete a PhD in law and cognitive science. Then with the help of researchers, coding engineers and an ex-NASA scientist, he established the Meisterline Analytics Research Lab, which in 2016 launched the world’s first science-based rating system for independently and objectively measuring the expertise of lawyers.

Keywords: #Lawyers #Attorneys #LegalProfession #LawFirms #LegalCareers #ProfessionalDevelopment #LawSchool #LegalExpertise #LegalMarketing #LMA #LegalDirectories #ChambersandPartners #Legal500 #CLOC #Procurement #LegalTech #Expertise #KUJI #Meisterline

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