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Performance Evaluations: What Your Employment Lawyer Would Like You to Know

Nothing is quite as frustrating for employment lawyers as when their clients’ own words – or silence – are used against them.  Whether in a self-evaluation or in a response to critical feedback, what you say and do not say matters.

Make Your Accomplishments Known

  • Use the evaluation process to raise your profile, focusing on your accomplishments and the value you bring to the organization.

  • Give examples and name names, focusing on specific achievements and the colleagues who will speak to your contributions.

  • “Boasting” – within reason– is encouraged.  If you are honest and factual in your assessment and give credit to others as is their due, there is nothing wrong with tooting your own horn.

  • Be concise, engaging and clear. Remember, you are writing as much for third parties as for your direct supervisor so avoid using acronyms and other industry jargon. Consider using bullet points for enhanced readability.

How to Handle “Areas for Development”

  • Re-frame any shortcomings as opportunities for growth and development.

  • Emphasize the positive outcome you anticipate if you prioritize your development goals. For example, “In order to be more effective in X, my goal for this year is work with Y to develop greater depth in Z.”

  • If something just isn’t fair (and maybe even illegal), tactfully say so.


Do not let modesty, anxiety or defensiveness undermine you.

© 2020 SHERIN AND LODGEN LLPNational Law Review, Volume VIII, Number 324


About this Author

Brian J MacDonough, Employment Law, Sherin and Lodgen Law Firm

Brian J. MacDonough concentrates his practice in employment law and executive advocacy. He handles a wide range of matters, including contract negotiation and enforcement, discrimination, whistleblowing, wage and hour issues, and wrongful termination. In particular, Brian counsels and represents executives and professionals regarding sophisticated employment and compensation matters, including employment agreements, change of control agreements, equity and deferred compensation vehicles, non-competition and other restrictive covenants, severance /separation terms, and...

David I Brody, attorney, employment law

David Brody is an associate in Sherin and Lodgen’s employment law and litigation departments. He represents clients in a wide range of matters, including wage and hour issues, wrongful termination, discrimination, retaliation, whistleblowing, and contract negotiation and enforcement. David has represented clients in both federal and state courts in Massachusetts and in Public Hearings before the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD) and the Civil Service Commission.