The pandemic has exposed law firms whose leadership is weak, resulting in many partners making the lateral move to firms with stronger business models and leadership.
Avoid the following mistakes when making the lateral partner move.
There are a plethora of pitfalls that you should avoid when making the lateral move. Be sure not to make this common mistakes when jumping to a new firm.
- Carefully review your partnership agreement before moving on to a new firm. Understand your compensation and how it will be affected when you make a move. If you are an equity partner what are your obligations to the existing firm (i.e. how much notice do you need to give them; what are your responsibility going forward etc.).
- Don’t oversell or undersell your book of business. Align expectations with reality. If you undersell, your compensation may not be what you expect. If you oversell your billings you may be creating bigger problems that you had at your old firm.
- Does the new firm give you what you need to be the best trusted advisor to your clients (I.e. practice areas for cross selling).
- Does the new firm’s corporate culture line up with your personal values? If it’s not a good fit, don’t make the move. Take time to find the right firm that has a culture that is consistent with how you practice law.
- Work with a legal recruiter to navigate the process. Recruiters know what firms are susceptible to being acquired by another firm and firms that are in danger of folding. Do your due diligence to ensure that the new firm is financially sound and has a solid strategic plan for the future.
Why are you looking to make the lateral partner move?
Before making a move there are many considerations. You don’t want to burn bridges. Making this decision is important part of your journey.
Questions to consider:
- If there is any chance of reconciling differences take the time to see if you can work things out with the existing firm?
- Do you have a succession plan in place and how does making the lateral move affect this decision?
- Will you be leaving money on the table?
Making the lateral partner move is a risk.
Before one gets brain surgery they get second opinion. Get counsel before you make the move. Know the risks, work with a legal headhunter to create a lateral integration plan to make the transition smooth and successful. Advisors know the marketplace and can place you in the right firm that is a good fit for you.
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