Partners with books, it’s lateral time!!!

Did you know the average tenure for a Biglaw partner is only 5.2 years? Yes, you read that right, 5.2 years! If during your last lateral move you were humming Single Ladies or Poker Face, guess what, the time for a move is more than likely in your near future. I have been very fortunate to be selected by a number of outstanding law firm partners with books of business as they are preparing to lateral. My team and I are here to help, and we have the knowledge, experience, and to work with you or your group in this process.

You may be asking however, why do partners make moves? While the reasons may be as specific and unique to the individual partner and his or her circumstance, in my experience I have seen some of the most popular reasons include the following:

1. Leadership

A recurring theme I hear from lateral partners is that they are no longer confident with the firm leadership or the direction in which the firm is heading. Firm leaders are the captains of the ship, and they set the course. Like the ship analogy? If partners are not happy with the direction, they jump ship (I bet you saw that one coming). Oftentimes leadership is a privilege afforded to seniority, and partners in leadership positions are not eager to relinquish their authority, let alone their benefits. Many partners in their late-50’s and early 60’s are reluctant to make waves as they are not interested in making a lateral move, and have vested interests in retaining the status quo, even if those interests may be in direct conflict with the growth of the firm. Younger partners become frustrated by this, and they will look elsewhere for new opportunities. I am working with several lateral partner candidates who fall under this category, and if it describes you, give us a call. We can help you target firms where you will be happier, and have a true hand in determining the direction of your career.

2. Status

I drive a 2005 Toyota Prius. My brother-in-law leases a new BMW or Mercedes every three years. Despite my pending mid-life crisis, I am still not test driving red Porsches, but careerwise that may be a different matter. Some lateral partners want to trade-up in terms of AMLAW ranking or firm reputation so that they can potentially have a long-term future at a firm known for their given practice area, or have that firm name on their resume to make them that much more attractive to a future firm that would value the prestige.

3. Platform

This is one of those terms that have seemingly become ubiquitous. Like the way paradigm was so popular years ago. When I talk platform with my lateral partner candidates, I am speaking about the firm’s ability to service clients, enhance business opportunities with existing clients, and create opportunities and support development of new clients. This includes having marketing, strategic plans, sound financials to support their execution, sufficient technological and human infrastructure including associates, counsels, and partners. When a partner is concerned the firm is losing or does not have the necessary means or dedication to maintain or grow his or her practice, the partner contacts me, or should be contacting me.

4. Comp

I do not know why this topic is so distasteful, especially to firms who should be interested in enhancing their existing practice areas through lateral hiring, but this is usually one of the primary reasons partner candidates make lateral moves. In my opinion, it damned well should be. At some point as associates, many of us drank the Kool-Aid (I sure did) and bought into the notion on some level of a sure path to partnership after 7 years as an associate, and a gold watch for 50 years of service. Naïve? Yes. Stupid? You betcha! These last couple of years have taught us that even equity partners may unceremoniously be shown the door. We are living in a time where we absolutely must be our own best advocates. Remember that G-d helps those who help themselves? If you believe you are not getting compensated fairly, if cross-selling is not rewarded at your current firm, if you are funding someone else’s retirement. Call me. It is time to make a move.

5. Conflicts

Pretty straight forward. The firm says you need to stop representing so-and-so, and so-and-so is an important client, so it is time for you and so-and-so to make a graceful exit. Do not screw around with this one. Time is of the essence. If you do not move, your billings will be drastically reduced, and if you do not move quickly enough, your client will find other counsel. Again, we have place partners in seeming record time under such scenarios, and are happy to help you if you are in this position.


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