When I started Gillman Strategic Group, I wanted to represent the individual law firm partner or group, not the law firm. I strive to find them the exact right perfect fit firm. So what does this have to do with origination credit and lateral recruiting?

A big part of what makes lawyers so attractive to law firms is the clients they bring with them. So, when I talk with law firm partners, I find out how much portable business they can bring to a new firm. When I explain that a million dollars or more is the amount of portable business that makes an individual candidate appealing to a larger law firm, and even smaller firms are looking for several hundred thousand dollars of business, some get discouraged because they are not yet at that level.

Origination Credit Can Be Misleading

However, after some more discussion, we often come to realize they are not far off. This is because the candidate with whom I am speaking is using his or her firm’s calculation of origination credit and not the lateral market’s calculation.

Let me explain. Too often, law firms give origination credit based upon history. They fail to recognize who is responsible for the current relationship with the client. I have heard this same theme play out in a few different ways.

In one example, I was told that the client, a large bank, came to the firm over 20 years ago. Over the years, people at the bank have come and gone. In fact, none of the original bankers are employed by the bank and the originating attorney does not get any more work from the bank. A younger partner developed his own relationships and does significant work for the bank. Because the bank was in the firm’s system, the young partner receives no origination credit. It is disappointing because nobody at the bank even knows the originating attorney at this point.

The Client Defines the Relationship

The litmus test I use is this – if an attorney were to leave, where would the client go? If you are at a firm that does not recognize that you are key to the relationship, you can bring the client to another firm that does. You should not have to beg for credit. It should be recognized, and your compensation should reflect the existing relationship, not history.

In the example above, if calculated according to who actually had the relationships with the client, the young partner’s book would be close to $1M. And his compensation would be significantly higher as well. Origination credit and lateral recruiting go hand-in-hand. Therefore, you may be more marketable than you thought.

One word of caution: it can cut both ways. Many lateral partners claim that a client will follow them wherever they go. Often, they do not realize that the client’s loyalties lie elsewhere. Be sure to carefully consider your relationship with any clients you promise to bring to your new firm.

A Good Lateral Partner Candidate

Because there is uncertainty concerning what makes an attractive lateral partner candidate, we put together a short publication.

Are You A Good Lateral Partner Candidate? is a great resource to position yourself as an attractive lateral partner candidate. Click here to sign up for a copy of it.

In the meantime, feel free to reach out if you have any questions about this blog or want to learn more about our process. I certainly want to learn about you and your needs.