Smarter Lateral Hiring for Law Firms

 Smarter Lateral Hiring for Law Firms is designed to help all firms reassess and strengthen their lateral strategy and processes in line with best practices. 

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  • Publication date: May, 2017
  • Pages: 107
  • ISBN: 978-1-78358-286-0


In a flat market where organic growth is increasingly difficult to achieve, firms continue to bank on the (considerable) benefits that can accrue from lateral hiring. However, there are still considerable risks.

The newcomer may fail to perform as expected or even make an expensive exit shortly after arriving, their book of business is not as profitable (or as portable) as it first appeared to be, their arrival could upset the cultural apple cart, or that they could be the cause of unforeseen client conflicts.

But the potential payoff when firms do make the right hire make up for all the failed attempts. 

Ark Group's new book Smarter Lateral Hiring for Law Firms is designed to help all firms reassess and strengthen their lateral strategy and processes in line with best practices. 

Smarter Lateral Hiring for Law Firms considers the main issues arising from a strategy of growth through lateral recruitment and shares practical steps that firms should be taking both pre- and post-hire, and on an ongoing basis, that can help them to sidestep common pitfalls and maximize the contributions of their laterals.

With contributions from a range of legal recruiters, consultants, academics, and law firm HR and marketing/BD professionals Smarter Lateral Hiring for Law Firms shows there are steps all firms can take to ensure they approach lateral recruitment in a more structured way, make better decisions and improve their lateral batting average. 



Executive summary 
About the authors 

Chapter 1: Lateral hiring can be key to client growth – If you do it right 
By Ian Turvill, chief marketing officer at Freeborn & Peters LLP

  • Critical success factor 1 – Develop and communicate an
  • explicit strategy for lateral hires 
  • Critical success factor 2 – Recognize that successful integration
  • begins long before and extends far after the hire date
  • Critical success factor 3 – Apply close scrutiny to performance
  • versus plan and make course corrections over time 
  • Conclusion

Chapter 2: Profitable lateral hiring – Numbers and nuances
By David J. Parnell, founder and principal of True North Partner Management

  • Assumptions 
  • The process of fi nancially modeling lateral acquisitions
  • Information you should gather ahead of time 
  • Performing the analysis
  • Modifying the transaction 
  • Is this a good hire?
  • Summary

Chapter 3: Cultural screening – Steps to ensure your laterals are a good cultural fit 
By Mark Brandon, founder and managing director of Motive Legal Consulting

  • Defining the problem 
  • Cultural norming
  • Beyond the obvious
  • Lies, cues, and anchors

Chapter 4: The hiring process – From board approval through to offer
By Mark Brandon, founder and managing director of Motive Legal Consulting

  • Be diligent about diligence 
  • The psychology of the offer 
  • Guarantee your own demise
  • Bonus, schmonus 

Chapter 5: Lateral partner compensation
By James D. Cotterman, principal of legal management consultancy Altman Weil, Inc.

  • “You did what?!”
  • The market 

Chapter 6: Lateral churn – How to increase retention of lateral partners from US and UK firms
By Melinda Wallman, partner and practice leader, partner practice group EMEA at Major, Lindsey & Africa

  • Clarify strategy
  • Communicate internally
  • On-board laterals
  • Long-term growth

Chapter 7: Integrating laterals
By Patrick J. McKenna, internationally recognized author, lecturer, strategist, and seasoned advisor to the leaders of premier law firms

  • Time to execute
  • Management

Chapter 8: Embedding laterals (and their clients) into your law firm
By David Freeman, J.D., CEO of the David Freeman Consulting Group

  • Screening recruits
  • BD from within
  • BD from outside
  • Integrating laterals’ contacts

Chapter 9: Collaboration among partners – Increasing the odds of productive lateral hiring
By Heidi K. Gardner, distinguished fellow in the Center on the Legal Profession at Harvard Law School

  • Origins of the war for talent
  • The risks of lateral hiring 
  • Critical action steps for improving lateral hiring 
  • Analytics-driven business plan 
  • Structured assessment of a candidate’s collaborative
  • capabilities
  • Post-hire mentoring and accountability 
  • Conclusion

Chapter 10: Branching out – The pitfalls of establishing a branch office through lateral hires
By Thomas Berman, senior principal of Berman & Associates

  • Lateral hire success (and failure) factors
  • Parting thoughts
Full Overview


Ian Turvill
Chief Marketing Officer, Freeborn & Peters LLP
Patrick J McKenna
Patrick J. McKenna is an internationally recognized author, lecturer, strategist, and seasoned advisor to the leaders of premier professional service firms, and he has also had the honour of working with at least one of the largest firms in over a dozen different countries. Patrick is the author of numerous books, most notably his international business bestseller, First Among Equals (currently in its sixth printing and translated into nine languages). His consulting expertise was acknowledged in 2008, when he was identified through independent research compiled and published by Lawdragon as “one of the most trusted names in legal consulting”, and his three decades of experience led to his being the subject of a Harvard Law School Case Study entitled ‘Innovations In Legal Consulting’ (2011). One example of that innovation was his launching the first instructional program designed to specifically address the issues that new firm leaders of larger firms face in their first 100 days – which has thus far graduated over 70 new leaders many from AmLaw 100 and 200-sized law firms, as well as from notable accounting and consulting firms. He is the only expert in professional service firms admitted to the Association of Corporate Executive Coaches, the #1 US group for senior level CEO coaches; and was acknowledged in 2014 by The American Lawyer magazine as ‘a long time succession consultant and coach to new firm leaders’.
Heidi K. Gardner
Heidi K. Gardner, PhD, is a distinguished fellow in the Center on the Legal Profession at Harvard Law School. Her research focuses on leadership and collaboration in professional services firms. She has authored or co-authored more than 50 book chapters, case studies, and articles in scholarly and practitioner journals, including the Academy of Management Journal, Administrative Science Quarterly, and Harvard Business Review. Her first book Leadership for Lawyers: Essential Strategies for Law Firm Success was co-edited with Rebecca Normand-Hochman (2015) and her latest book Smart Collaboration: How Professionals and Their Firms Succeed by Breaking Down Silos was published in 2017 by Harvard Business Press. Heidi works extensively with professional services firms and in-house professional departments in corporations around the globe. In addition to advising senior leadership teams, boards, and executive committees on strategic issues, she has addressed more than 10,000 professional firm partners in more than 20 countries on the theme of smart collaboration. Heidi has lived and worked on four continents, including positions with McKinsey & Co. and Procter & Gamble, and as a Fulbright Fellow. Presently she serves on the board of directors for The Second Step, a non-profit agency in the Boston area focusing on survivors of domestic violence.
Thomas Berman
Founder, Berman & Associates
David H Freeman
David H Freeman, JD, a former lawyer and now CEO of the David Freeman Consulting Group, has helped thousands of managing partners, group and department leaders, partners, counsel, and associates become better leaders and rainmakers in hundreds of law firms world-wide. For nearly two decades, he has worked with over one-third of the AmLaw 200, and in 2013, for the second consecutive year, he was recognized as the best law firm business development and coaching service provider in a National Law Journal survey. He is an internationally acclaimed speaker who presents at law firm retreats, law firm networks, international, national, and regional conferences, LMA and ALA chapter meetings, bar association meetings, and law schools.  David’s main areas of practice include leadership training and coaching; business development training and coaching; accelerated cross-selling; client service training and planning; retreat design, facilitation, and speaking; and business development culture assessments. He was Co-Chair of the Legal Marketing Association’s 2010 Annual Conference, he has written a unique book for law firm leaders called Weekly Reminders for Revenue-Focused Leaders, and he is a co-author of Law Firm Marketing Leaders: Tips from a Collection of Experts. He also wrote an on-going leadership column for American Lawyer Media’s newsletter, Marketing the Law Firm, and he has authored many other articles on the revenue-related aspects of management, leadership, service, strategy, and business development for most of the major legal publications. David also produces practical video tips focused on leadership and business development, he has developed a DVD-based personal rainmaking system for lawyers called CMOplaybook®, and he created a business development culture assessment tool for law firms called Culture Xray®. David can be reached via email at the consulting group.
James D. Cotterman
Principal, Altman Weil, Inc
Mark Brandon
Mark Brandon is the founder and managing director of Motive Legal Consulting, which specialises in advising law firms on strategic management and resourcing issues. Motive also conducts specialist research in the legal market, and was responsible for ‘Lateral Partner Moves in London’, which gained wide coverage in the legal press in the UK and internationally. Mark was formerly a senior recruiter at leading London recruitment company First Counsel, where he specialised in placing partners and teams into top UK and US law firms in London. Prior to that he spent ten years as a legal journalist, including: editor of Legal 500, editor of In-House Lawyer magazine, editor of Law Firms in Europe, series editor of the Insider’s Guide to Legal Services, editor of Legal Times, and features editor of The Lawyer magazine. Mark contributes to the ongoing debate on legal services as a regular blogging panellist on The Lawyer magazine’s website, and is a contributor to the magazine; he is also author of the special report Lateral Partner Hiring and Integration for Law Firms (published March 2011 by Ark Group). For information on Motive services and experience, visit the website, e-mail or call (+44) 20 7490 1396.
David J. Parnell
David J. Parnell is a business of law author, columnist, speaker, and the founder of legal search and placement boutique, True North Partner Management.

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