2 December 2020

CHAPTER 4 – WHAT IS PROFESSIONAL EXPERTISE?

Each week I post a chapter from The KUJI HandbookIf you’d like to start from the beginning, here’s a link to Chapter 1. For more information about the book itself, see the description at the end of this article.


In this chapter we look at the origins of our modern-day concept of professional expertise and how Meisterline is using the latest science to rate professionals based on their expertise.

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While expertise is at the core of what it means to be a professional, few people truly understand what professional expertise is. And those who do understand it, have discovered that the modern concept of professional expertise has a very long and important history.

A Long Time Ago

If you want to understand what it means when we call someone an expert today, you have to go all the way back to the craft guilds of Medieval Europe, to the time of Novices, Initiates, Journeymen, Experts and Masters.

Each of those titles had a specific meaning. They recorded the milestones that these professionals had reached in their careers. They also revealed their abilities to complete particular types of tasks, and to take on certain roles and responsibilities.

It was a very effective system because everyone knew that a Master could take on the biggest and most challenging work, while Initiates would be still just learning the basic skills of their profession.

This was one of the earliest systems, or frameworks, for categorising expertise in a professional setting, and it led to consistently matching the right professionals to the right jobs as they progressed through their careers.

While it’s not something many people realise, this medieval system of describing expertise was vital to many of the incredible achievements from hundreds of years ago that we still marvel at today.

And as strange as it may seem in today’s world of smartphones, electric cars and all the other advanced technologies we’ve developed, no-one has yet been able to improve on these centuries-old descriptions of expertise.

Our ancestors clearly knew a lot about experts. But today we know a lot more about the science behind what they knew only by tradition.

And Meisterline is at the cutting-edge of the latest research, creating a reliable, reproducible metric for assessing expertise.

Our Contribution

What’s been our biggest contribution to date?

It’s how we can now give anyone the ability to accurately measure the expertise of a lawyer, or an entire law firm, using a very simple yet powerful system of rating metrics.

As I explain in this handbook, this is a much bigger breakthrough than many people realise.

For instance, law firms can use our ratings to (1) attract and retain better talent, (2) avoid being seen by clients as mere “commodity” service providers, and (3) more effectively differentiate their lawyers from their competitors.

On the client side, our ratings can be used to (1) find better lawyers for less money, (2) hire law firms that they know share their values on issues such as workplace diversity, and (3) dramatically improve their legal buying decisions with detailed quantitative and qualitative data.

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ABOUT

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.

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