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How Does Lateral Hiring Work?

published November 19, 2021

By Author - LawCrossing
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Law firms are always looking for ways to improve their practices and make more money. One way they can do this is by hiring a lateral attorney. So, what does that mean? And how does it work? How much should you pay an attorney? How do you find one to hire in the first place? This article will answer all those questions so that law firms can take advantage of the benefits of a lateral hire.

How Does Lateral Hiring Work?

Many law firms are switching over from the traditional hiring process, in which they source and interview one candidate at a time. It can be inefficient for potential employees since there's not always going to be someone perfect waiting around when you're looking for new talent or job skills. So, what is happening more often these days? Companies utilize an alternative method called "lateral hires" instead. Everyone involved takes steps into unknown territory by rolling out multiple searches simultaneously - later assessing each prospect individually before making any final decisions about who gets offered positions permanently or temporarily based on personal skillset matches only.

Lateral hiring is a smart thing because as time goes on, the world of law changes rapidly. To stay competitive and profitable with your legal business, you need people who can adapt quickly - which a lateral candidate undoubtedly provides for those willing to pay them well enough.

Most attorneys are just happy to receive a decent salary and go home with employee benefits. They're not out there trying to do anything more than that, so they won't usually reach for the stars while working at your firm - which is why you should always hire lateral associates instead of anyone else.

Hiring laterals is a great way to improve your firm's workforce morale with people who are more willing to bend over backward for you. In addition, since they're not as afraid of losing their jobs, lateral hires can devote themselves more fully to the task at hand- which is ultimately what law firms want since it helps them make more money. 

Why Law Firms Should Consider a Lateral Attorney

  1. The lateral attorney is a valuable asset to the law firm in lateral hiring.
  2. Lateral associates can be used as an extension of your team.
  3. Recruiting and interviewing a lateral attorney requires careful consideration.
  4. Hiring a lateral attorney can help you grow your business.
  5. The cost of hiring a lateral attorney is offset by better client relationships and more revenue

Tips for Finding a Lateral Attorney

- Identify potential lateral attorney candidates before you need them by partnering with your clients to help source the best possible talent. It is a perfect idea if you have experience working with other attorneys in their industries because it can give your insight into who might be thinking of leaving their current firm in lateral hiring.

- Be specific about what you are looking for when sourcing potential lateral attorney candidates. Make sure to mention if they need experience in a particular practice area or industry, perhaps even one your client is involved with. It will help narrow down the list of possible people who may be willing and able to meet your criteria.

- Participate in professional legal association events and online communities like LinkedIn to meet potential candidates. How can you do this? You might try searching for some of the big law firms that operate near your location on those websites, then reach out to them as a fellow attorney who specializes in something they're not currently hiring for but may consider later down the road!

How Much Should You Pay a Lateral Attorney?

A lateral attorney makes less money than attorneys at larger law firms but may have more expertise and better connections with clients who could become future customers. A firm might make more sense financially to hire one instead of an attorney who's worked their way up.

The amount you should be paying for a lateral attorney depends on their experience and qualifications. For example, if they have had some experience working with clients in the past but not enough to make them qualified, it would cost less than someone who has more extensive knowledge of cases like yours. Because this could benefit both parties involved significantly by ensuring that no stone goes unturned when trying different approaches during trial proceedings or negotiations between attorneys' teams representing opposing sides after litigation begins appropriately.

 Since lateral hiring on the executive level with the same salary tier, money is not a motivating factor that you can use to entice your candidates. Instead, you have to think like your candidates and use the research in lateral hiring you did on them to figure out what would motivate them to leave their current organization to hop over to yours.

Pros and Cons of Lateral Hires

  1. Lateral hires are an effective way to bring in new ideas and perspectives.
  2. They can be an excellent way for companies to make organizational changes without firing people.
  3. Lateral hires can help organizations become more diverse, suitable for the organization's culture.
  4. There are fewer barriers when hiring lateral recruitment because they don't need to fit into your company's existing structure - they often have experience working independently.
  5. Hiring lateral hires also means that you're not spending time or money on training them - they'll come with their skillset and knowledge base already learned elsewhere.
  6. The downside of hiring lateral hire is that it takes longer to find the right person because there aren't as many qualified candidates as possible, but this isn't always true if you use some creativity in your search process.

  1. Lateral attorneys may not be as experienced as those practicing for a more extended period.
  2. Lateral attorneys may not be as qualified to represent you in your legal issue.
  3. Hiring a lateral attorney could lead to additional expenses, such as paying for their malpractice insurance and other fees.
  4. You may need to wait longer than usual for the case to start because it will take longer for the new lawyer to get up-to-speed on your case.
  5. Finding an attorney with experience in your type of legal issue can be difficult if you are looking at lateral lawyers only.

Tips for Finding a Lateral Attorney

Most methods to attract talent include social media, job boards, employee referral programs, and mining your talent pool, so it's an outbound and reciprocal inbound process. In other words, you put the word out through various platforms and invite candidates to apply. Lateral hiring is usually a slow and often secretive process.

We believe that the right lateral move comes from working closely with talent to curate their long-term career paths. When it comes to career advice, what matters is not the agency's size but the strength of your recruiter.

When finding the perfect candidate for your law firm, the right person should be motivated to work for you, not the other way around. It means they want to join your firm and practice law in one of your legal departments because it is an exciting environment with great benefits and projects where their talents shine.

Lateral attorneys are generally well-rounded professionals who understand business but still love the law and want to practice it. It makes them a great addition to any legal team, especially when they bring their business acumen from other firms.

If you have a new job open, recruiters can facilitate the process. If you want to hire a lateral attorney, try talking with your existing staff members about who they might recommend or even check out LinkedIn for potential candidates.

We believe that the right lateral move comes from working closely with talent to curate their long-term career paths.

Lateral hiring is not an easy process, but you will attract quality candidates by dedicating yourself to finding the right people for your company culture, mission statement, and strategic plan.

Here are some of the tips for finding a new hire for your firm's unique position:
  1. Lateral attorneys are often hired because of their experience in a particular type of law.
  2. There are many ways to find attorneys, including networking with other professionals.
  3. One way to find a lateral attorney is by looking at the websites for firms that hire them.
  4. Another way to find a lateral attorney is through your state's bar association website or even the American Bar Association's website
  5. When you're interviewing potential candidates, it's essential to look at their resumes and discuss your goals and expectations with them so they can best represent you in court.
  6. When meeting with prospective attorneys, ask about their experience with cases similar to yours and how they would approach things.

Law Firm Interviews for Lateral Hires

When you're looking to make the most of your lateral recruitment process phase, it pays off in more than one way. For example, interviewing candidates who don't have experience with law firms and legal procedures like civil litigation or bankruptcy proceedings; interviews can give insight into what type of attorney they might turn out to be, which could save time down the road. It offers a great deal of convenience for both parties and can expedite the lateral hiring process.

Interview Tips

The lateral hiring process is not the same as hiring an entry-level associate, which means that your interview process should reflect this. In addition, while new hire attorneys need to get trained on how your firm conducts business and follows procedures, lateral attorneys already have experience working in law firms. So you can skip over things like teaching them protocols or the "how-to's" of practicing law.

What to Look for During an Interview

Lateral attorneys also come with their own set of skills and knowledge, which you'll want to be sure that the person who is interviewing well has as well - whether it's a legal specialty or advanced degree.

These attorneys also often have experience in your type of case, which means you can skip the interview process and move on to checking their references. So, again, this is a great way to save time while still making sure that you're hiring someone who has the right personality for your company culture and goals.

Their education can also help you build your attorney team. For example, a law school graduate who did their undergraduate work in accounting will offer insight into the financial aspects of a case and may even have valuable connections within that field.

The more legal knowledge an outside hire has, the better they can do cases independently without much supervision.

The lateral hiring process is different from the traditional employment-to-hire method. However, it can still be a worthwhile recruitment strategy for law firms looking to expand their teams. By offering potential candidates flexible work options, unlimited access to continuing education, or even reimbursements for moving expenses - you will improve your chances of finding quality attorneys and saving time in the process.

Interview Process for Lateral Hires


1. What Are the Qualifications of a Lateral Hire Candidate?

The qualifications needed by this type of employee typically include experience in specific disciplines outside their field(s) preference or specialty area. E.g., computer science engineering might require certification/licensing. In contrast, human resources need interpersonal communication abilities. Sometimes, clients want someone who understands how emotions affect decision-making in work environments where there is no clear line between personal life.

2. How Does the Company Evaluate Interested Candidates?

Well, they have several different processes. Two of which are identifying potential new hires by checking their resume and references or interviewing with an HR specialist (or team). If this person is qualified, they go through our extensive training course before being permanently placed on staff and receiving full benefits coverage for themselves during that period- all at absolutely no cost. Interested candidates should be able to answer questions related to their professional history.

3. How Does Your Law Firm Assess an Applicant's Fit With the Organization's Culture, Values, and Goals?

A vital part of an interview process for new hires at any company should assess how well they will mesh within that culture. There isn't just one way to do this, but some general cues might help them figure it out before making any decisions.

They need to be a team player and will work well with others. They should also have experience working on teams or regularly collaborating as part of their job at another company, maybe even within your industry, because those skills are transferable/interchangeable in specialized hiring.

4. Why Should Someone Be Interested in Becoming a Lateral Hire at Your Law Firm?

Becoming a successful lateral hire at your law firm is not the typical path to becoming an attorney. Still, it can be an excellent way for someone with specific qualifications and interests. Getting this position starts by asking the candidate why they are interested in the lateral move and why they will be a good fit for the post. Your interview questions should focus on their performance in both their past job and current firm. It is essential to address that they understand the company's culture and how their personality fits into what you're looking for as an organization.

5. What Skills Should a Candidate Possess That Will Be a Good Fit for the Team's Success?

Some very sophisticated assessments will help you understand the candidate's behaviors, personality, intelligence, and social skills. Use these assessments as a way to weed out candidates who won't fit your firm's culture. These assessments are also valuable for helping to shape the candidate's image of your firm. Hire associates who will work long-term and help grow your practice group.

Recruiters usually post the specific skills they are looking for on job boards or social media groups. If you are looking for someone with experience in your type of case, then the recruiter will be able to review resumes and cover letters from possible candidates who have relevant skills. Experience as an in-house counsel is also an asset that recruits for lateral moves look for.

6. Provide Information on How to Apply for the Existing Position, Including Instructions and Deadlines.

Get ideas and processes from the most successful people you know. It may include former managing partners, HR directors, and even the recruiters you may be using. Create a specific series of steps that guide the candidate through the interview process during the lateral hiring. 

What a Law Firm Believes Is Most Important to A Lateral Hire?

Every law firm is going to have qualities that they value in a candidate. For example: 
  • How long have I been practicing my craft?
  • Is there a good understanding of what you've gone through as an organization since its inception?
  • How much experience does this individual have performing similar tasks or working in a similar environment?
  • Does the candidate understand the company's culture, and how does it align with your requirements?
  • Do they have to have a well-proven track record of success in their practice areas?
  • How does this individual's personality mesh with the personalities of other people in the organization?

A newly hired attorney will need to demonstrate that they can handle the firm's workload and meet deadlines. They must also work well with other people, collaborate as needed without stepping on any toes, and demonstrate a genuine interest in working for your company long-term. Expect that it will take some time to find the right candidate for this position in the market, but once you do, it will be beneficial in helping your firm grow.

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