Throughout the U.S., law firms are recruiting experienced attorneys as lateral hires, according to consultant Heather McCullough, a partner at Society 54. The benefits can include quickly growing the firm’s client base, increasing revenue, and creating opportunities to deliver services in additional practice areas.
However, only 54 percent of lateral hires turned out to be a breakeven proposition, said McCullough in a May 16 talk to the Legal Marketing Association’s South Florida group at Kobre & Kim, LLP
“You should understand your objectives for hiring a lateral and have a clear strategic purpose,” McCullough said. “You should also conduct due diligence on each candidate, be sure the attorney is a good fit for the firm’s culture, and provide appropriate support during the onboarding process.”
McCullough emphasized the importance of analyzing a number of factors before making a hire, including the candidate’s ability to deliver more revenue, as well as the cost of support personal and services. “You want to obtain a full financial disclosure from each candidate,” she added. “You also want to find out why they are leaving the current firm and their long-term professional goals.”
Once a new lateral joins the firm, McCullough said it’s important to set achievable goals and integrate the new partner into the firm’s existing practice groups. That might include in-person meeting with clients, as well as attorneys and staffers throughout the firm.
“Don’t hire people based on your gut feelings,” she said. “You should also carefully evaluate serial laterals who have moved multiple times. Finally, don’t focus on your laterals at the expense of your current attorneys. Give them plenty of attention as well.”