Hiring partners away from another law firm has become a core tactic in the strategic plans of most law firms. Indeed, legal trade publications report some number of lateral moves nearly every day.
It wasn’t always this way. When I started practicing back in the 1974, lateral partner moves were relatively rare. Firms were reluctant to share partnerships with lawyers they had not trained and inculcated into the firm’s culture over a period of years. As firms’ strategies became more expansive, however, bringing in lateral partners became a necessity. The time and expense required to build practice areas or offices organically was simply too long and too costly to keep pace with the changes in the marketplace.
Unfortunately, survey data and my own conversations with law firm leaders over the years tell me that firms are disappointed with the contributions of at least half of the lateral partners they bring in. And while many lateral candidates are successful by any measure, the majority are not. The unsuccessful cases range from modest contributors who simply are overpaid to unqualified disasters. This disappointing record is causing many firms to re-examine their lateral hiring policies and practices. As well they should. The cost of lateral hiring mistakes is substantial, both in quantifiable economic terms and in harder to measure cultural and morale terms.
Here are five suggestions for making lateral hiring more successful:Read More