This is your year! Let’s find you a new law firm! After months or even years of feeling like you are at the wrong firm, you finally decide to work with a recruiter. The recruiter’s job is to find a law firm that is a better fit for you. Either at the beginning of the recruiting process or during it, I am often asked, how long does it take for a lateral partner to find a new law firm. The answer is, it depends. But in my experience, I have learned that there are 4 common reasons it may take longer than usual for a lateral partner to find a firm that is a better fit.
#1 – The Candidate Causes Delays by Not Promptly Scheduling Meetings or Skipping Steps in the Process
In lateral partner recruiting, the candidate must typically meet with the law firms that are under consideration, and more than once. Therefore, you should expect an initial meeting with a hiring partner, managing partner, and/or leaders of your respective practice group. This is usually followed by a meeting with a larger group of partners. This meeting customarily includes more partners from the practice group you hope to join. Sometimes other business professionals from the firm will be included at any of the above meetings such as representatives for the firm’s administrative and marketing departments. Knowing that there will be meetings, the candidate can move the process along by getting these meetings on the calendar as soon as possible.
So again, promptly scheduling each of these meetings is a way to keep the momentum going. At many firms, after the second meeting, you will be asked to fill out a Lateral Partner Questionnaire or LPQ. The LPQ helps the firm determine if you are economically a good fit. The firm also uses it to determine if the firm will have any conflict issues with any of your clients. While we can help with the LPQ, much of the information is under your control. Therefore, you will have to gather it which may require some time and effort.
Everyone involved understands that you are busy, but not completing your LPQ in a timely fashion can stall the process. Therefore, as soon as you start thinking about a potential move, it would be prudent to gather your relevant information. This information includes collections and realization rates for the last three years, billing rates, and total hours worked.
Once the firm reviews your LPQ and decides it wants to move forward, there will likely be a meeting with the firm’s leadership team. Before the pandemic, you probably would have been asked to attend a meeting at the firm’s main office when considering joining a satellite office. However, these days, it is more than likely to be a Zoom meeting. Regardless of whether it is in-person, which would require travel on your part, or a remote meeting, promptly scheduling it is important to keep the process moving forward.
At some point after this meeting, the firm will resent you with an offer if they want you. You should think about what information you will need to reach a decision. Also, think about who you would like to speak with or meet with again to discuss the offer. This planning will help you schedule those calls or meetings in a timely fashion.
#2 – Besides You, the Law Firm is Handling Other Recruiting Activities
Although your own lateral partner recruiting process is foremost on your mind, the firms you’re speaking with have other recruiting events simultaneously going on. For example, the firm may be going through the acquisition of a small firm or even a merger with a larger one, which would understandably take significant management attention and recruiting resources. There may also be several other lateral partner candidates going through the process at the same time. These candidates must also meet with many of the same people.
While these issues should not affect your chances of receiving an offer (especially if your practice will add to the firm’s bottom line), firm management can only meet with one partner at a time. Therefore, the need to interview other lateral partner candidates may cause scheduling delays for you. Try to be flexible and schedule the next step in the process as soon as the firm is available.
#3 – The Time of Year Can Impact the Timeline
Time of year can be a factor in the timing of a lateral partner move. Is it the last month of the firm’s fiscal year and everyone is busy closing the books? Or is it summer or the holiday season? As we all know, it’s hard to schedule meetings and interviews when so many of the players are on vacation.
Associate hiring may also be a factor in the timing of the lateral partner recruiting process. Is the firm is busy with law school on-campus interviewing? Is it the beginning or end of the summer associate program? Or maybe the firm is bringing on first-year associates and conducting their orientation? Although none of the above reasons is related to you, all of them may cause a delay in your process. Try to be patient and flexible. Make an effort to schedule the next step quickly when the firm is ready.
#4 – The Perfect Match Takes Time
Have you waited months or even years to decide you were ready to find a better fit, and now you’re impatient to find that perfect match immediately? Keep in mind that this is a very important choice for you. You should be deliberate and careful in making it so that you can make the best decision possible.
Although it seems like a lot of these timing factors are outside of your control, you can help the process move smoothly by being flexible, responding quickly with the information requested by the firm, scheduling meetings as soon as possible, and not canceling those meetings unless there is a true emergency. Even when things run smoothly, the process will generally take at least two months to complete.
Keep in mind that this is also a very important decision for the firm, and they need to make a careful decision too. Be patient – once you find your perfect fit the whole process will have been worth the time.
The Process Starts with You
Now you know more about how long the lateral partner search process can take and the potential causes of delays. Don’t leave things to the last minute. Please reach out to us as soon as you begin to consider a potential move. We can help you assess your timeline, assist you in the gathering of relevant information, and prepare you for success in the interviews. Gillman Strategic Group is experienced in navigating this process and we work hard to make it go as smoothly as possible. We will truly partner with you taking on most of the work to help you find your exact perfect fit law firm.