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Categories: Career, Law

Considering a Lateral Move? Make the Most of Changing Firms

Recently I’ve worked with a number of law firm partners considering a move and have helped them make the most of changing firms.  Despite the pandemic, the lateral partner market is hotter than ever. Many firms are on a hiring spree trying to scoop up desirable lawyers and their teams. If you are considering a move, be sure to read these tips on how to make the most of the lateral partner hiring process.

Prioritize the Lateral Partner Questionnaire (LPQ)

Filling out extensive LPQs may be tedious, but they are often the first peek behind the curtain a firm will have of you. An Am Law 200 partner I recently worked with noted: “As a lateral partner, I still had to manage my practice while simultaneously doing all the legwork required to present myself and my practice in the best light.  EJ dedicated the time to perfect my LPQ and helped me craft a message that resonated with firm decision makers.” The LPQ is your opportunity to communicate your vision for your practice, your business plan, and your financial data. And, most importantly, share details about your portable business.

Do Your Diligence

Before an interview, research firm clients, key rainmakers, and firm leadership. Review firm insights and news for the last three months. Understand industry trends that may directly impact the firm. Come prepared to discuss how your clients fit into the firm, and what practice areas/attorneys present a good cross-selling opportunity for your clients.

Make Your Story Compelling

As you discuss your practice, be sure to focus on the client relationships you have with decision-makers and those capable of directing business. If you’ve cross-sold other practice areas to your clients, share your successes. Develop case studies that highlight your unique experience solving client problems. These anecdotes will highlight your ability to build client trust, collaborate with your peers, and develop a niche that will set you apart from other lateral candidates.

Ask the Right Questions

Few things are more important than understanding the firm’s culture. Questions to consider include: How would you describe the firm culture? What does the lateral partner on-boarding process look like? How is firm credit assigned? How does the firm encourage collaboration, both from a team-building and monetary stance? Are associates regularly included in client pitches? How has the firm prioritized diversity?

Select Your References Wisely

You may be tempted to name your client’s GC or CFO as a reference. These names may look great on paper. However, if they don’t have time to return a phone call, the endorsement is meaningless. I regularly advise my clients that having this caliber of reference is nice to have, but it is far more critical to identify a reference who will offer glowing feedback AND return a timely phone call.

Changing firms presents an exciting opportunity, but it can also be nerve racking. Following these tips will provide a roadmap to lateral candidate success. If you have questions, I’d love to hear from you.