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:
- May I review the firm’s partnership (shareholder) agreement?
- How would you describe the firm’s core values?
- Does the firm have a strategic plan?
- What are your expectations for partners? Associates?
- How do you hold your lawyers accountable for what is in the plan?
- Does the firm have a marketing plan and a marketing budget?
- How does the firm encourage lawyers to engage in client development efforts?
- Are associates encouraged to help with client development?
- Do your partners have a written business plan with goals?
- Do your associates have a development plan or some kind of plan for their non-billable time?
- Do you have a plan for cross-selling and expanding relationships with existing clients?
- How do you encourage partners to help develop your next generation of successful lawyers?
- What is the retention rate for partners?
- What is the retention rate for associates?
- Does the firm have any debt?
- May I see the firm’s financial statements for the last three years?
- What is your plan to successfully integrate me into the firm?
- 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?