Lateral hiring of partners by law firms can bring on great risks and result in huge financial disappointments. Lateral hiring can also create enormous rewards.
We have seen a spate of law firms literally fail because of injudicious lateral hiring. Yet, growth through lateral hiring remains a mainstay at most law firms.
Much has been written about the due diligence required for effective lateral hiring. But little is said about the interview process itself.
For better or worse, much of the current “state of the art” in the interview process is about preening and demonstrating to the candidate that the firm is populated with nice quality people and attempting to discern if the candidate is a “good guy” and will fit in with the firm’s culture.
While culture fit is indeed critical, the current state of affairs is to avoid any discussions with a candidate about his or her actual level of competence and accomplishment. We somehow live in a world where detailed discussions on those subjects are quite politically incorrect.
Political correctness has little place, however, where there is so much at stake in taking on a lateral.
You took that car you drive around in on a test drive before you bought it. You should do the same for your lateral candidates. Trading in a lateral candidate is a far more costly proposition.
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