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I am a senior associate with about $80,000 in portable business. Is that good enough?

published August 18, 2014

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Question:

I am a senior associate with about $80,000 in portable business. Is that good enough?


Answer:

Most attorneys who have tested the lateral market within the last few years have quickly realized the importance of having a portable book of business. It is a huge feather in your cap if you are a junior or mid-level associate, and depending upon your practice area, it can be absolutely critical as a senior associate, Of Counsel, or partner-level candidate. That being said, not all portables are equal, and there are a lot of factors that ultimately determine whether your portable book is "good enough" for the type of lateral move you are trying to make.

Whether a book is good enough for a particular firm at your class level is something that will always be changing, so I'm just going to list and describe a few factors that will help you understand how hiring partners evaluate portable books so you can be realistic about your own.

PORTABILITY: You may have a solid history of generating business at your current firm, but the most salient factor in terms of marketing yourself to a lateral firm is: will your clients follow you? You should have a reasonable sense of how likely it is that each of your clients will follow you to your new firm - if you have a $2M book, but only $800k of that represents clients that will stick with you (rather than with the general practice group at your current firm, which is often true of legacy clients or large clients where multiple partners share origination credit), you should be relatively upfront about that fact when marketing your candidacy.

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