It was 2003, and I was having a record year. Near the end of the year, two large international law firms with Dallas offices offered me far greater compensation than I was making at my firm.

The difference was significant enough that many lawyers would have jumped to one of the firms just based on the increased compensation. I didn’t. I stayed with my firm one more year and then left to coach lawyers full-time.

I read recently that in a study of lateral partners barely more than half (52.8 %) responded they were “very satisfied” with their new firm. Based on my experience, I believe the laterals who were not “very satisfied” did not know enough about their new firm before making the change.

Lateral partner recruits: How much do you know about the firm that is about to make you an offer? What should you know?

Having been heavily recruited when I practiced law, I came up with questions I wanted to be answered from firms that wanted to make me an offer.  Here are some of those questions:

  1. May I review the firm’s partnership (shareholder) agreement?
  2. How would you describe the firm’s core values?
  3. Does the firm have a strategic plan?
  4. What are your expectations for partners? Associates?
  5. How do you hold your lawyers accountable for what is in the plan?
  6. Does the firm have a marketing plan and a marketing budget?
  7. How does the firm encourage lawyers to engage in client development efforts?
  8. Are associates encouraged to help with client development?
  9. Do your partners have a written business plan with goals?
  10. Do your associates have a development plan or some kind of plan for their non-billable time?
  11. Do you have a plan for cross-selling and expanding relationships with existing clients?
  12. How do you encourage partners to help develop your next generation of successful lawyers?
  13. What is the retention rate for partners?
  14. What is the retention rate for associates?
  15. Does the firm have any debt?
  16. May I see the firm’s financial statements for the last three years?
  17. What is your plan to successfully integrate me into the firm?
  18. How many total number of clients does the firm have, and what percentage of the firm’s business is coming from the top ten clients?