Many of the practices that lead to successful lateral hiring are basic common sense. In many instances, however, BCG Attorney Search has found firms mistakenly adhering to a number of practices that seriously undermine the success of their lateral hires. These include:

How to Recruit Great Lateral Attorneys
  • Relying on the word of their firm's partners that a prospect is a "good catch." In such instances, firms also overlook crucial tasks—such as checking out the prospect's references, or even their credit status—out of a sense that doing so is a betrayal of the unwritten "legal honor system" and will unnecessarily embarrass both the firm and the lateral;
  • Bringing on laterals without precise, pre-defined economic reasons other than generalities, such as business potential or the firm's need to develop a certain specialty and expertise; and
  • Neglecting to evaluate the portability of the laterals' clients, identify projected work for both ongoing projects and potential matters, verify dollar amounts to the extent possible by examination of historical billings, and ascertain whether the laterals' existing clients were indeed satisfied with the level of service they were provided.
Whatever the reasoning, the standard result is a problem BCG Attorney Search has cautioned law firm leaders about for some time: Some prospects who look great initially don't produce as anticipated and the firm is left with depressed profits, unhappy partners, and concerns over how to confront their problem acquisition.

What some firms are doing