Keeping your law firm partner lateral move confidential is vital, both for you and for the firm you are moving to. 

When your firm learns that you are considering leaving before you are ready to share the news, it can lead to more than just tension around the office — you could risk losing clients or even face pressure to change your mind. 

And if you are still looking for the perfect fit for your lateral move or just beginning to explore your options, the last thing you need is for your partners to find out…especially if you decide to stay! 

For these reasons and more, confidentiality is critical as you consider your next step. 

Your decisions are your decisions, and they should stay that way until you are ready to share them. 

In this article, I’ll offer some tips for searching confidentially and explain why clients I work with don’t have to worry about whether or not word will get back to their law firm.

Keep Your Law Firm Lateral Move Confidential: Here’s How

Changing firms is an involved process and can take some time. 

There are, however, some steps you can take that will help preserve confidentiality throughout your lateral move

For example:

  • Use an intermediary.

If you’re going from firm to firm, letting people know you might be interested in working there, it will get around town that you’re looking to move.

That’s why one of the best ways to keep your search confidential is to have someone else conduct it for you.

A third party can speak to firms on your behalf, often without identifying you until it’s clear there is a fit or some interest.

  • Plan your exit well in advance.

Changing law firms and making a lateral move takes time. In a large firm, this process may take up to nine months or a year, and you don’t want to rush it. 

Give yourself time to negotiate with your new firm and wrap things up at your current firm, all while making sure nobody sees any signs that you are on your way out the door.

Many partners like to change firms at the beginning of the year. That is fine: just don’t wait until the end of the year to get started. This is one of the most common mistakes I see. 

So, when is the best time to start exploring alternatives? A Chinese proverb says the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now. 

The same applies to your transition: the best time to start looking was six months ago, and the second best time to plan your lateral partner transition is today.  

  • Be discreet if meeting with recruiters or interviewing during business hours.

You probably don’t work in an environment where someone tracks your every move – but you still want to be mindful of your availability, scheduling, and absences.  

Again, keep your decisions yours. You don’t want your current firm to start asking questions or your new firm to think you are unprofessional.   

This can be a delicate balancing act; having an intermediary to act on your behalf can ensure you don’t take furtive calls in a broom closet.

  • Use a temporary email address and virtual phone number.

For obvious reasons, you do not want to use your professional email account or office phone number in your search for a new firm. 

But you may not want to use your personal accounts, either. Setting up a temporary “burner” email address and virtual phone numbers is easy. These are not tied to any location or device and offer many advantages.

  • Be sure to keep networking.

Your perfect-fit lateral move isn’t going to walk into your office and announce itself; you need to put in some effort, and it will take some time. 

To give yourself opportunities keep networking and growing your book of business.

You may also find that through your networking activities, you find contacts at new firms and are better prepared to identify your exact right perfect fit firm. 

Gillman Strategic Group Can Help 

As I mentioned above, using an intermediary is one of the most effective ways to maintain confidentiality. That’s where Gillman Strategic Group comes in. 

When we handle your search, we look on your behalf for that exact right, perfect-fit firm that meets all the points on your wishlist. 

We can conduct confidential conversations with the firm on your behalf and even keep your identity secret until we find a good fit with which to move the process forward.  

Furthermore, we are also experienced in facilitating meetings between firms and candidates outside of the office in places where candidates feel comfortable that colleagues will not observe them.  

Finally, although I am always available to my clients, you never see me at a vendor table at a Bar Association conference or similar event. There’s a good reason for that: I don’t want you to feel like you must tell your partners that you’re considering a move before you’re ready.  

Often, when I talk to a candidate, they ultimately decide to stay where they are for a bit longer — or even permanently. If your firm discovered you considered a lateral move after you’ve decided to stay, you could be labeled disloyal, and the effect on your career could be highly damaging. 

We want you to make the right choice for you. We don’t want you to work at a firm you dislike or take a position that isn’t a great fit – if you decide you are happiest where you are, then you should stay. You can only do this if you keep your move confidential.   

That’s why we help you close your lateral move deal in complete confidentiality at Gillman Strategic Group. We work for you. We want you to be successful. The law firms pay us, but your happiness is our goal and our reward.    

The Bottom Line 

I was a lawyer, too. I understand what it’s like. I know how important it is that your decision remains just that: your decision. That’s why we take confidentiality so seriously. That’s why it’s just not an issue with us. And that’s why you can be very confident that no one will know you’re looking for another firm until the day you start. 

We are a legal recruiting firm focused on helping partners with books of business find their exact right perfect fit firm.   

Remember, you deserve to feel that your firm is the perfect fit for you. If you don’t feel that way, you may want to consider a lateral move — and there are firms out there just waiting for you to come along! But nothing will change if you don’t take action to begin the process.  

Ready to get started? Give me a call today