Lateral hires potentially offer more expertise, more of a market share, and more fees for your firm, not to mention a PR boost – so why aren’t you doing it already?
Because making a successful lateral hire is difficult.
There are many factors to a successful lateral hire - not least an investment of time and money - there are considerations of specialism, background, following, culture, longevity, expectations vs prior performance, and whether to really make it work you need that person’s team as well.
What is important is to begin the process with a defined, and objective, plan. Are you looking to break in to a new market, add to an existing offering, strengthen a team or broaden your geographical reach? Which of these demonstrates the highest risk and the highest potential returns? You aren’t likely to have enough market information in-house to answer this question, so do you invest in that research separately or use a trusted headhunter with in-depth knowledge of your market?
Every hire is a unique opportunity in a unique set of circumstances, and it can’t be judged in isolation. Is it a success or a failure if a lateral hire brings a substantial fee following, but fails to add to that once in post? What about if there are consistently growing fees, but minimal repeat work?
For firms who use lateral hires as an ongoing strategy, there may be considerations over Associate development and retention and whether that would be a better investment. For firms who look to only promote from within, that could be limiting the potential growth of the department/office/firm.
Where lateral hires are made consciously, proactively, and as a result of a defined strategy, there are benefits across the board. Firms that enjoy more capacity at Partner level, are able to offer greater expertise and draw in more work by reputation. As market share and fees increase there are opportunities to expand into associated sectors or new locations, and the firms trainee’s and associate see positive opportunities for their own progression.
As your firm grows organically as a result, you may find it’s soon time to think about lateral hires again – just make sure you have a plan first.
Errington Legal is a legal recruitment specialist with particular experience in supporting Lateral Hires across the South East and Midlands. If you would like a confidential, tailored discussion about your firm’s needs, please get in touch on 01223 803813.