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Before you start...

In our experience a little homework before starting the Lateral Partner journey can save you a lot of time, increase your likelihood of success with the firms who should be most interested in you and increase your financial compensation when you make the move. So, here are five items to carefully consider:

1) Your Resume

Make sure it is up-to-date and conveys the information firms want to see, in particular, including a summary of key engagements, transactions, patents, etc. Also, include awards (Super Lawyer, Best Lawyer, Legal 500, etc.) and professional memberships (Law 360 Editorial Board, ACREL, etc.). For additional ideas, pick five of the most successful people in your field whom you know and study their bios. Modeling your resume on these Partner's bios will help paint the picture that you are successful like them.

2) Your Practice Profile

This summarizes your practice over the last 3-5 years and should include a one year forward projection. This is the most important thing you can do WELL. It should be realistic and as accurate as possible. Firms make an initial decision to speak with you based on this information.

Many Partners torpedo their candidacy by being unrealistically conservative. Also, Partners torpedo themselves in the long run by being unrealistically optimistic and setting themselves up for failure by painting a picture they can't produce. By including multiple years of consistent data about your practice and being able to explain variations, you increase the comfort level of potential firms in making a hiring decision about you by minimizing their risk with accurate, consistent data.

Remember, when your recruiter presents you initially to a prospective firm and answers the question, "So, what is their portable book?" your future income is determined and there is no going back. An example:

2021 2022 2023 2024 YTD 2024 Est


Billable Hours

Billing Rate

3) Your Clients

If a prospective firm is interested in your practice, they will want to have a client list ASAP, so they can complete a preliminary conflicts check. No firm wants to spend a lot of time to find out down the road that there is a killer conflict.

4) Business Plan

We all want to think the decision about you is made on your qualifications, integrity, work quality and clients. While this is very important, the reality is that changing firms is about the merging of your practice into an acquiring firm. So, the new firm wants to minimize its financial risk in acquiring your practice and your financials into their partnership, without diluting the earnings of its existing partners. A business plan adds credence to your Practice Profile by identifying how you are going to prioritize your work at the new firm, how you are going to leverage the new firm and where and when you are going to get your revenue; in short - how you are going to bring value to your new firm.

A business plan can be as simple as:

Client Company Name | Contact Name/Title | Matter | Date | Low $ Estimate | Med $ Estimate | High $ Estimate

5) Portable Book

The first question firms ask me is - "What is the candidate's Portable Book." Those Partners who are very conservative tend to ruin their candidacy before it even begins. Those who are too optimistic tend not to deliver what they said they would and leave their new firm within 2 to 4 years. This is why 40% of Laterals change firms again within 4 years. This is why we ask for your last 3 years of Originations, Billable Hours, and Rates. If your Book is out of line either positively or negatively, we need to be credible with your Book.

6) Short List

So, here are some ideas to help you not just make a move, but to improve your situation:

1) Looking at your practice today what are the key factors or resources at your present firm that helped you get to where you are, and need to be at your next firm?

2) What is your Practice Development Plan and where do you want to take your practice in the future?

3) What practice areas, skills, competencies and firm culture need to be at your next firm to help you achieve your practice objectives in the future?

4) Based upon your analysis and what you know about other firms, are there firms that you feel should be considered for your short list?

Next, when you select a recruiter, have an in-depth conversation about your practice using the data you have compiled and the analysis you have done to sort through which firms you and your recruiter together feel best meet your needs. Use that to create a short list of 3-5 firms that your recruiter can approach on your behalf.

Since at least 40% of Lateral Partners will Lateral again within 4 years, doing your homework now can save a lot of heartache down the road by matching your practice, talents, and objectives to those firms that can best help you be successful. A good recruiter will take the time to collaborate with you to organize your search to approach those firms that are most likely to be successful for you in the long run.

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