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Inside Straight: Moving Laterally

published July 28, 2021

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Have you seen a lot of lateral moves recently? This is something that is starting to happen a lot in most firms. So, if you are a professional, this is a movie that you can consider to kick start your career. Let’s take a closer look at lateral moves.
 
 

What Exactly is a Lateral Move?


First of all, it is important to understand what is actually meant by a lateral move. A professional takes a job at another law firm in basic terms, but the new position is at the same level they were currently working at. Indeed, there can be some differing duties. But, the core of what that professional is doing will be the same as their old firm.



The Benefits of a Lateral Move


If you are currently looking for a change in your legal career, you may be considering a lateral move. Indeed, there could be many advantages ahead for you. Let’s check out some of them now.


Offers New Challenges


A lot of people think that a lateral move is safe and boring. However, this is not true. It is actually an inspiring move since you can be moving to a new law firm. You may have a similar position in the legal industry. Still, you are getting to take on new challenges and from a new perspective. Therefore, a lateral move is an excellent way to take on new challenges without feeling like moving too much out of your comfort zone.


Good for Networking


If you want to move forward in your legal career, it is always recommended that you network.

Not only does this help you meet other professionals from different legal teams you can bond with on a personal level, but it is also beneficial for connecting for your future career. But, when you have been at a law firm for a while, you may have stopped networking and building relationships. Taking a lateral move can be a good way to kickstart networking again.


Offers More Benefits


Moving to a new law firm can be a good thing when it comes to benefits and incentives. Let’s not forget that every law firm is different. Most law firms offer many personal benefits to an employee, such as healthcare and gym memberships. So, moving to another law firm might allow you to gain more incentives. While you should never prioritize a move just for this reason, it is something that you can benefit from when you move laterally to another law firm.


Avoids a layoff


Unfortunately, during economically challenging times, your job can be at risk. If you think that layoffs will start happening at your law firm, it is advisable to start looking for another job. This can be beneficial to your career and resume since it will not necessarily show up. Indeed, a lateral move will make sense since you were not looking to move right then, and it was your law firm’s decision.

You do not want to progress up the ladder until you are ready, and if a layoff is imminent, you want to choose a similar position. This is when a lateral move is perfect and going to suit your agenda.


Provides More Experience


Let’s not forget that experiencing how another law firm operates is a good thing. You are going to develop your skills and gain experience. It is easy to get too comfortable in a job. A lateral move can be a good way to gain more knowledge without moving up the career ladder too soon. All of your experience comes together and makes you even better at your job, which prepares you for the future.


The Best Times to Make a Lateral Move


You can make a lateral move at almost any point in your career. But, as you would expect, there will be times when it is easier than others. Often, this is when you have some experience under your belt. Here are the best times to make a lateral move, as told by an experienced legal head-hunter.


As a Third-Year Associate


Many associates will tell you that you will receive some offers when you are three years into the legal profession. This is a time that a lot of head-hunters want to seek out young talent. The reason behind this is simple. You have had three years of experience by this point in your legal career, but you are still young enough to bring a new perspective to a role. A law firm will not have to worry about having to train you in the basics. You will already have this knowledge and some expertise to offer.


Six to Seven Years into Your Law Career


The next milestone in your career where you can expect to receive offers is around six to seven years since you graduated from law school. You have reached a level where you are an experienced lawyer and somebody that has been around the block. You will have established your skills and have a lot of expertise. In particular, you may have found a legal niche and have something unique to offer other law firms. You are somebody that needs minimal training, and you are going to fit right in.


As a Partner


Being a partner is a huge step in your legal career. For a lot of people, this was the goal all along when they started. This means that when you are a partner, you will find the phone ringing again with offers. You will be a highly sought-after individual that has distinguished skills and a lot of expertise. You know what it takes to be a professional lawyer and take on a lot of responsibility. Your high profile will naturally make you a target for other law firms. This is particularly true as an expert in a specific practice area.

The above three points in your career will be when offers come to you from head-hunters. This is not to say that the phone will not ring at another point. But, it is often out of the blue and unpredictable.


Interesting Findings Of Lateral Moves


Some interesting findings have been made when it comes to lateral moves in legal careers. Let’s take a look at some of them to understand the whole picture and whether you want it in your own career.


Women are More Successful


There is some interesting empirical evidence to suggest that women are more successful in making a lateral move. In particular, women are known to invest in external capital. In other words, they are networking with other professionals from outside their law firm. This is opposed to men known to invest in internal capital, which means working on relationships within the law firm. So, women will have more offers and help settle into their new job when it comes to lateral moves.


There are Some Negatives


A lot of good things can happen as a result of a lateral move in your legal career. But it is crucial to understand that it is not always going to be the best move for you.

For example, there are some negative aspects that you will have to consider.

For example, there will be some instances when you will have to face a pay cut. The new firm you are moving to may not offer the same salary and benefits you currently receive.

This could include less vacation time, perks, and other incentives you like and currently receive at your law firm.


People Can Question Your Ambition


A lot of people will have an opinion on your career. It is natural for colleagues you work with and loved ones to ask you whether you are making the right move. Indeed, they can view a lateral move as not much of a move at all. You may notice that people doubt your ambition and question why you are not staying at the law firm to try to work your way up the ladder.

A lateral move can be a significant step in your career. Everyone will be different, and new challenges at another law firm can be exactly what you need to build your skills and experience. Think about what is right for your legal career and mental health and ignore others who want to be negative about it.

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