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Becoming a Lateral Partner at a Good Law Firm

published January 28, 2021

By Author - LawCrossing
Published By
( 8 votes, average: 4.5 out of 5)
What do you think about this article? Rate it using the stars above and let us know what you think in the comments below.
Have you heard of the phrase, 'buying a book of business?' This means that a law firm is looking to hire a lateral partner. Indeed, a lot of law firms are now using the lateral partner market to boost profits and take their business to the next level. There are a number of reasons why this can make sense for a law firm. After all, candidates can come with lots of experience and a good client base. Let's take a look at what law firms are looking for and why you might want to become a lateral partner.
 

The Lateral Partner Market

 
The legal market changes all the time. Some trends happen, and it is important to keep up with them. In particular, lateral partner hiring was something that not many law firms did 10 years ago. It used to be viewed as swooping, and it was not a common practice. However, times have changed. Lateral partner hiring is now something that is more widely accepted. Recruiters seek out the right partners for a law firm, and it can be a great business move for both parties.
 
What Do Law Firms Look for in a Lateral Partner?
 
When it comes to finding the right lateral partner, law firms will all have their own culture and look for different skills and experience. But there are some common features that law firms often look for during the hiring process. So, let's take a look at them.
 
Profitability
 
Law firms want to ensure that any lateral partner they bring in is going to make them money. Therefore, a partner's profitability will be the first thing they consider when looking at candidates. They are going to look at bill rates and how many hours can be calculated during the year. In addition, any expenses associated with that partner will be considered. Overall, law firms want to make as much money as possible with little costs and outgoings. So, if a lateral partner is going to be able to build up their hours and have good bill rates, they are going to be in the running for hire.
 
Also, portable business is going to be a factor that is considered by law firms. Indeed, they will consider younger partners for a position. A law firm understands that they may have smaller books than other associates out there. But they want a reasonable amount of portable business with a candidate for a partner. This will speak volumes about the type of partner they have been for the law firm, and it can bring profitability with them.
 
Qualifications and Pedigree
 
For a lot of careers, the university or college you attended does not really matter. The most important part is you earned your degree and the qualification you graduated with. However, this is not always how it works in the legal industry. In fact, you will be surprised just how much your law school matters and the leverage it can give you in your career.
 
One of the factors a law firm will investigate is your qualifications—namely, the law school you attended and its reputation. For instance, you may have a better chance of becoming a partner during your career if you attended Harvard Law School. Unfortunately, that is the reality of the law industry, and prestige does matter.
 
This is not to say that you would never become a partner if you attended a less well-known law school. This is definitely not true. If you have years of experience and a great record, this can attract many law firms. But there is no doubt that if you attended a prestigious law school, you would have an advantage in being a partner at a law firm.
 
Some law firms will even consider your GPA. While this might seem like years ago, if you have been practicing law for some time, it can be a factor that is examined. For instance, if you want to become a partner at a big law firm, you will want to have a GPA in the top 10 to 15 percent of your law school class.
 
Ambition
 
The main reason for a law firm looking for a lateral partner is growth. The firm wants to continue to grow and become more profitable, and they are looking for a partner with the ambition to match. Being a lateral partner is not easy. It is estimated that it can take around two years to settle into the position and cement their place in the law firm. Thus, a lateral partner should be self-motivated and driven, with the ambition to really try to make a difference in their new position. While this can be a lot of hard work, it can also be very rewarding.
 
What Should Partners Consider Before Moving?
 
Let's not forget that the move from one law firm to another has to be right for the partner too. Both parties should be happy that this hiring is right. Indeed, this means that partners will have some considerations to make, including the following.
 
Individual Goals
 
If you are already a partner, you have made great achievements in your career. However, you probably do not want to stop there. You will still have individual goals you want to achieve in the legal industry. Therefore, when the opportunity to become a partner at another law firm arises, you need to think about it carefully. In particular, will this move align with your individual goals?
 
The Law Firm's Reputation
 
Indeed, a law firm is going to consider your reputation very carefully before hiring you. They will look at your qualifications, including your GPA and the law school you attended. They will even look at your job history and the law firms you have previously worked at. Lateral partners should also do the same.
 
It is recommended that you examine the law firm's reputation before you confirm you want to be a lateral partner. After all, this is going to reflect on you. Take your time and consider your options. Look into the law firm's culture and ethics to make sure that you are not going to be in for any nasty surprises later on. You need to think about your career first. After all, you don't want to spoil what you have built. So, do your background work first, and do not jump at a new opportunity too soon.
 
The Risks
 
Any career move comes with some sort of risk. But for a lateral partner, there can be more risk than you realize. Remember that you will be moving from a law firm where you have a reputation, client base, and good professional standing. You will be moving to a new law firm where you will have a lot of expectations and standards you must live up to. You need to ensure that it is worth it, and you think you can succeed.
 
In other words, you need to consider the risks of becoming a lateral partner. Make sure that you do your research before you join a new law firm. Weigh what type of partner they are looking for and whether you have what it takes to reach their expectations. The last thing you want is to be struggling a few months into the job when it could have been avoided.
 
Overall
 
Hiring lateral partners is now a widely accepted practice, and law firms and partners should not be discouraged from this. Indeed, law firms can hire recruiters to find the right candidates. Even partners can approach recruiters to see if there is an organization better suited for their skills.
 
Suppose you are a professional that would like to become a lateral partner. In that case, you must understand what law firms are going to be looking for. This way, you can make yourself more attractive and approachable. Commonly, law firms are looking at profitability. We are talking about your billing hours and billing rates since all law firms want to make money. But they are also interested in you having portable business. So, if you can bring clients with you, this is a great asset to have.
 
Of course, qualifications and your education are always going to be important. If you have gone to a prestigious law school, you are going to have an advantage. But this does not mean you should give up if you did not. Just acknowledge that some people have a head start in this way. You may only have to work harder to prove your worth. Your GPA can also be a deciding factor. So, if you have a great GPA, this will go down well with law firms looking for a lateral partner.
 
Do not forget that a move to a law firm must be right for you too. Always consider your own personal goals and the risks you are going to be taking by becoming a lateral partner. Remember to do your research and know about the law firm's reputation first.

published January 28, 2021

By Author - LawCrossing
( 8 votes, average: 4.5 out of 5)
What do you think about this article? Rate it using the stars above and let us know what you think in the comments below.